Freed Moroccan prisoner of war in Donetsk returns home after Saudi intervention
Brahim Saadoun, a Moroccan student who was sentenced to death by a court in pro-Russia Donetsk, has returned home to Casablanca after Saudi Arabia's intervention to free him.
On Saturday night, Brahim landed at the airport of Mohammed VI in Casablanca appearing in good health.
The prisoner of war smiled and waved to the crowd of supporters as he stopped to answer questions from the press.
In a statement to the media, Saadoun thanked Saudi Arabia, the Turkish government and the Moroccan people "who stood in solidarity with us."
"Words cannot describe how I feel. I didn't believe it at first, I only really realized [what was happening] once I arrived in Saudi Arabia, where I was very well received after my release," added Brahim the 21-year-old aeronautical engineering student who had been based in Ukraine since 2019.
Saadoun also said he wants to draw attention to the difficult situation in Ukraine and the struggle of its people in this painful time.
"Many people do not know what is really happening there," he added.
Saadoun was freed on Wednesday, one of 10 foreign prisoners of war - including five British and two American citizens - transferred to Saudi Arabia as part of the exchange between Moscow and Kyiv.
On 9 June, Brahim Saadoun was sentenced to death alongside two British men by the unrecognised Donetsk People's Republic (DNR) over participating in the Ukraine war as a "Ukrainian mercenary".
Saadoun had reportedly joined Ukrainian forces before Putin's offensive on Kyiv.
He signed a contract with the Ukrainian Marines in 2019, according to his father's statements.
After his trial, the Moroccan government said that Saadoun had been "captured while wearing the uniform of the military of the state of Ukraine, as a member of a Ukrainian naval unit."
Taher Saadoun, Brahim's father, held several campaigns to free his jailed son, urging Russia's president Putin and Morocco's government to intervene.
Rabat said it cannot get involved as Brahim was "imprisoned by an entity that is recognised by neither the United Nations nor Morocco."
The so-called Donetsk People's Republic is a quasi-state located in Ukraine, formed on 7 April 2014, by pro-Russian separatists after the Ukrainian Revolution of Dignity.
Rabat has adopted a position of neutrality in the war between Russia and Ukraine.
Upon the student's arrival, Brahim’s father praised Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for his role in the release.
"Brahim has suffered from the imprisonment but he will recover and get back to his studies," Taher Saadoun, Brahim's father, said to reporters.