Leaders of Islamist group in Tanzania freed, charges dropped
ZANZIBAR, Tanzania (AP) — Leaders of an Islamist group that advocated for independence for Tanzania’s semiautonomous region of Zanzibar have seen terrorism-related charges against them dropped, officials said Wednesday.
The two top leaders of the civil society group the Association for Islamic Mobilization and Propagation, or UAMSHO, were freed after eight years of detention. Farid Hadi and Msellem Ali Msellem were released Tuesday night.
The director of public prosecution, Sylvester Mwakitalu, confirmed to reporters the dropping of all charges. Mwakitalu did not give details, and the leaders’ lawyer, Juma Abdullah Juma, told The Associated Press the decision came as a happy surprise.
UAMSHO had had friction with the governments of both Tanzania and Zanzibar for using its religious platform to advocate policy changes.
Several religious leaders in Tanzania, both Christians and Muslims, had called on the new government of President Samia Suluhu Hassan to use “wisdom” while dealing with the suspects, with some appealing directly to government leaders to prosecute or release them.
Religious organizations in Zanzibar praised the decision. It was “very human and morally oriented,” said Abdullah Ali of the Imam Association of Zanzibar. He urged people to let those newly released focus on their families after a long absence.