The British mercenary Simon Mann was freed from jail in Equatorial Guinea today after having been sentenced to 34 years for trying to overthrow the country's government. He served less than two years.
Born: June 1952
Background: Mann comes from a wealthy British family that inherited a brewery fortune. Mann attended an elite British military academy and served with British SAS forces in Northern Ireland, Central America, and Europe. After leaving the military in the 1980s, he began a career providing security services in conflict zones.
Arrested: In Zimbabwe in 2004, Mann was accused of beginning a coup to overthrow the government of Equatorial Guinea, a former colony of Spain. The coup plotters wanted to install an opposition leader living in Madrid, Severo Moto, in power. Mark Thatcher, son of the former British prime minister, pleaded guilty in South Africa to unwittingly financing the coup and was fined. If successful, Mann was reportedly going to receive a $15 million success fee and security contracts, according to The Times, a London-based daily.
He was extradited from Zimbabwe in 2008 and sent to prison for 34 years in Equatorial Guinea. He left jail today and was pardoned, along with four other coup plotters, for what the government calls “humanitarian reasons.” Mann now has 24 hours to leave the country.