From being convicted and imprisoned for trying to overthrow Obiang, to becoming a consultant for the guy? Weird. Although one thing is for sure, Simon would be the ‘go to guy’ in order to sniff out other coups being planned against Obiang.

     The other thing that is interesting here is that Simon might actually be in a position to ‘influence’ Obiang, which the oil companies would really like. From what I have read, the oil companies hate dealing with this extremely corrupt nation and leadership, and I would too. Having a guy that has a leader’s ear like this, makes things a lot more easier when negotiating deals. (kind of like The Last King of Scotland movie)  Stay tuned, because this story just keeps getting weirder as time goes by. –Matt

Mann back in Equatorial Guinea – to work for leader he tried to oust

Mercenary advises Equatorial Guinea president

Simon Mann

Mann back in Equatorial Guinea – to work for leader he tried to oust

By Kim Sengupta

25 October 2010

Simon Mann’s incarceration in a brutal prison for attempting to overthrow one of the most notorious dictators in Africa was turned into an international cause célèbre in a long and vocal campaign by family friends.

The former SAS officer is now free and has just taken up his first proper “day job” since his release: working for that very same ruler he was determined to depose, Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo of Equatorial Guinea.

At the time of the bungled coup in 2004, Mr Mann is said to have declared to his friends that he was helping to deliver the people of the benighted nation from the depredations of their appalling leader, who had been accused, among other things, of being a cannibal.

Sceptics accused the Old Etonian adventurer of being much more interested in the rewards he could gain in a country which had one of the largest deposits of oil in the continent.

It remains unclear at just what point Mr Mann decided that President Obiang, who had himself come to power through a coup, was not such a bad chap after all and was someone he could do business with. There were signs pointing towards the change of heart at Mr Mann’s trial, when he repeatedly attacked fellow conspirators such as Mark Thatcher, and insisted that he was being treated well in jail. After he was released from prison 33 years early (from a 34-year sentence), he insisted that he had been treated “like a guest, not a prisoner”.

Since then, Mr Mann has not made any public comments, supposedly at the strong request of the Foreign Office, which helped obtain his pardon from President Obiang.

However his wife, Amanda, in an interview with Tatler magazine, described the President as a “lovely, lovely man”.

This is not a view shared by the President’s victims and human rights groups. Amnesty International strongly condemned the execution of four opponents three months ago following a trial it described as “a travesty”.

The main opposition coalition described the executions as “political assassinations”. Amnesty’s Africa director, Erwin van der Borght, said: “Equatorial Guinea must put an end to the abductions, torture and executions it currently carries out under the pretence of justice.”

Mr Mann has refused to say what exactly his advisory role for Mr Obiang would entail. Jeff Gordon, a private security consultant who has worked in Africa, said: “Presumably one thing Obiang does not want to seek advice from Mann on would be how to stage a coup. What Mann and his guys tried to do in Equatorial Guinea was one of the worst-kept military secrets ever. People were standing in bars in Jo’burg and Cape Town openly taking about what was going off. Few people were surprised when it ended in such a disaster.”

Mr Mann and President Obiang are also said to have been liaising over a defamation case in Lebanon brought against them by Eli Calil, a businessman accused by the Equatorial Guinea regime of financing the plot to take over the oil-rich nation. Mr Calil has denied any involvement.

According to associates, Mr Mann has cultivated strong ties, in particular, with Jose Olo Obono, a former attorney-general who, while in office, brought the charges against him, along with those against many others in what have been described as political trials.

Story here.


Mercenary advises Equatorial Guinea president

By William Wallis in London

October 22 2010

Simon Mann, the British mercenary, has returned to Equatorial Guinea as an adviser to the president he was convicted in 2008 of trying to overthrow.

Mr Mann, an old Etonian, recently visited the central African country where, until a year ago, he was in prison serving a 34-year sentence for plotting against President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, according to business people familiar with the former Special Air Service officer’s movements and a person close to the government.

Since his release last year following a presidential pardon, the sources said that Mr Mann had cultivated strong ties with his former captors, including Jose Olo Obono, until recently the attorney-general who brought the charges against him.

Mr Mann has made no public comments since he returned to Britain last November. His reincarnation as an adviser to his former nemesis provides a remarkable twist to an affair that began with his arrest at Harare airport in Zimbabwe in March 2004. At the time, he was preparing to load weapons on to an aircraft that had arrived from South Africa with more than 60 mercenaries on board.

He was convicted in Zimbabwe of weapons offences, but denied any conspiracy to topple Mr Obiang. In April 2007, Mr Mann asked an extradition hearing in Zimbabwe: “Would it have been possible to overthrow a whole government with 69 men?” He added: “Sometimes I actually feel flattered that people think that I am so fantastically dangerous that I could do that . . . it’s suicidal . . . ludicrous . . . there wasn’t a plot.”

Mr Mann was nevertheless extradited to Equatorial Guinea in 2008 and then convicted of organising just such a plot.

Despite fears for his safety, Mr Mann said on his release after serving only one year in jail that he had been treated “like a guest, not a prisoner”. He said the president had “collaborated brilliantly”.

In an interview with Tatler magazine, Mr Mann’s wife, Amanda, described Mr Obiang, accused by opponents of corruption and human rights abuses since he seized power from his uncle in 1979, as a “lovely, lovely man”.

Mr Mann declined to comment on his new role. A friend said that it was still in its early stages. A business person who knows him said it made sense for the president to have Mr Mann on his side, given the persistent threats to his regime.

Mr Olo Obono declined to discuss in what capacity Mr Mann had been retained, saying only that he was “free to come and go as he pleased”.

Like Mr Mann, the former attorney-general, now president of the supreme court, has also served time in Black Beach prison, where he, too, was converted from the cause of the radical opposition to the service of the president.

Mr Mann has been discussing with Mr Obiang a defamation case in Lebanon brought against both men by Eli Calil, the tycoon accused by the government in Equatorial Guinea of financing the plot to take over the oil-rich nation.

Mr Calil has denied involvement, but admits introducing Mr Mann to an exiled opposition leader, who the country’s government alleges was central to the plot.

Equatorial Guinea has become one of Africa’s leading oil producers.

But Mr Obiang has been at pains to repair the image of his government, considered by activists to be among the most corrupt in Africa.

Under pressure from campaigners, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation suspended a science prize to be named after Mr Obiang on Thursday. The Unesco-Obiang prize for life sciences was created in 2008, and Equatorial Guinea was to finance it for five years for $3m.

Story here.