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Peter Biar Ajak, detained Cambridge student, pardoned

Peter Biar Ajak has been detained since July 2018.

#freepeterbiar #peterbiarajak #southsudan #amnestyinternational

Activist and Trinity PhD student Peter Biar Ajak, detained for over a year in South Sudan, was sentenced to two years in prison in June 2019 after giving interviews to foreign media. He was originally arrested in June 2018 and held without charge. At one point facing the death penalty, Biar's detainment was the subject of an international social media campaign #freepeterbiar, with Amnesty International also campaigning for his release.

He was pardoned by South Sudanese President Salva Kiir along with thirty others on New Year's Eve, in a move the president claimed was to rejuvenate the region's stalling peace process.

Mr Biar Ajak, a prominent youth leader as well as a renowned economist, had called for both Kiir and the opposition leader to stand down to make way for a new generation of leaders, as well as being critical of the way they had approached peace talks prior to his arrest.

His lawyer, Philip Anyang, told Reuters that "It’s a good gesture by President Salva Kiir for keeping his words. The release … is a New Year gift to the family of Biar."

Cambridge University Amnesty International said in a Facebook post that they are "thrilled" about the news, and thanked "everyone who has campaigned for #freepeterbiar". They went on to say that "Peter's freedom inspires us to continue to fight for the rights, dignity and justice of individuals around the world."

It is unknown when he will be released from prison. As of 02/01/2020, he has spent 524 days in prison.

Cover image: CNN screencap.