Casablanca – A Moroccan prisoner of war released as part of an exchange between Moscow and Kyiv said he wanted to draw attention to the “struggle” of Ukraine as he returned home on Saturday.
“I’m happy to come home after going through very difficult times,” said Brahim Saadoun, 21, an aeronautical engineering student who had been based in Ukraine since 2019.
“I want to draw attention to the difficult situation in Ukraine and the struggle of its people in this painful time,” he told AFP at his family home, in a working class district of Casablanca.
Saadoun was freed on Wednesday, one of 10 foreign prisoners of war — including five British and two American citizen — transferred to Saudi Arabia as part of the exchange between Moscow and Kyiv.
Smiling and appearing in good health alongside his mother, Saadoun thanked Saudi Arabia, the Turkish government and the Moroccan people “who stood in solidarity with us”.
His father, Taher Saadoun, said he had “an indescribable feeling of joy”, and also praised Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for his role in the release.
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Brahim “has suffered from the imprisonment but he will recover and get back to his studies,” he said.
Brahim Saadoun was sentenced to death alongside two British men by the unrecognised Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) in early June.
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”.
It said he had been “imprisoned by an entity that is recognised by neither the United Nations nor Morocco”.
Rabat has adopted a position of neutrality in the war between Russia and Ukraine.
Morocco is keen not to alienate Moscow, a UN Security Council member, on the issue of the disputed status of Western Sahara, a vast stretch of mineral-rich desert which Rabat considers part of its own territory.