An Ottawa man walked out of a courthouse in the Democratic Republic of Congo a free man Tuesday, only to be told the Canadian government was refusing to release his passport.
“I was really shocked,” a frustrated Fabien Kalala Shambuyi told the Sun via telephone from the Congo Tuesday.
But a few hours later, a spokesman for Minister of State of Foreign Affairs Diane Ablonczy said Shambuyi’s passport had finally gotten in his hands.
“He has received his passport from our Canadian officials and we will continue to provide consular assistance,” said John Babcock, adding it was delivered late Monday by the Congolese to the Canadian consulate in Kinshasa.
Shambuyi could not be reached Tuesday night to confirm he had the passport and was heading home.
Shambuyi, 24, was on his way home to Ottawa for Christmas when he was arrested at the Kinshasa airport Dec. 21 for insulting the president.
He had been volunteering as a security guard for Etienne Tshisekedi, who took on Congolese president Joseph Kabila in that country’s recent election.
According to Babcock, Canadian officials in Congo are helping Shambuyi “and his family at home,” and he was critical of media reports covering Shambuyi’s plight.
“To say nothing’s been happening, it’s not true,” Babcock said.
In the meantime, Shambuyi just wants to come home.
“I need to get back to my school. I need to get back to my family,” he said.
“I want to get back to Canada.”
While his papers are in order, Shambuyi isn’t completely in the clear — he still has to meet the exit requirements when he tries to leave the Congo.