Simon Mann is a British mercenary and former British Army officer. He served part of a 34-year prison sentence in Equatorial Guinea for his role in a failed coup d’etat in 2004, before receiving a presidential pardon on humanitarian grounds on 2 November 2009. In this fascinating London Real interview, Simon talks candidly about his incredible life, what being a mercenary means to him and how the time he spent in prison affected him and his family.
Simon Mann began his journey in the military by joining the British Army’s elite Special Air Service. Renowned for their exceptional skills and rigorous training, the SAS played a crucial role in shaping Mann’s early career. Mann’s time in the SAS marked him as a capable and disciplined soldier, earning him respect among his peers and superiors.
Following his military service, Simon Mann delved into the world of private military companies. He co-founded the infamous private military company Executive Outcomes, which gained notoriety for its involvement in conflicts in Africa during the 1990s. Executive Outcomes was hired by various governments to provide military assistance in civil wars and conflicts, raising ethical questions about the role of mercenaries in modern warfare.
One of the most controversial chapters in Simon Mann’s life unfolded in 2004 when he became embroiled in the Equatorial Guinea coup plot. Mann, along with a group of mercenaries, was accused of planning to overthrow the government of Equatorial Guinea. The coup plot, known as the “Wonga Coup,” aimed to depose President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo.
The coup plot was foiled, leading to Simon Mann’s arrest in Zimbabwe in 2004. He faced charges related to the illegal purchase of weapons and violation of aviation laws. Mann was eventually extradited to Equatorial Guinea, where he stood trial and was sentenced to 34 years in prison for his role in the conspiracy. His imprisonment shed light on the murky world of mercenaries and their involvement in political upheavals.
Simon Mann’s journey took a surprising turn as he sought redemption during his imprisonment. He cooperated with authorities, providing information about the coup plot and expressing remorse for his actions. His efforts, along with diplomatic interventions, eventually led to a reduction in his sentence. In 2009, Mann was pardoned by President Obiang, and he was released from prison after serving a portion of his sentence.
Following his release, Simon Mann returned to a life beyond the shadows of intrigue. He authored a memoir, “Cry Havoc,” which provided a detailed account of his military career, the Equatorial Guinea coup plot, and his subsequent redemption. Mann’s memoir delves into the ethical dilemmas surrounding the world of mercenaries and the consequences of his actions.
In the years following his release, Simon Mann engaged in philanthropic efforts, focusing on charitable initiatives and contributing to discussions on global security and conflict resolution. He became an advocate for responsible and ethical conduct in the private military industry, reflecting on the challenges and moral complexities inherent in such endeavours.
Simon Mann’s life is a tale of extremes, marked by military heroics, mercenary exploits, and a tumultuous journey of redemption. From the disciplined ranks of the SAS to the controversial world of private military companies and the Equatorial Guinea coup plot, Mann’s life has been nothing short of extraordinary. His story serves as a nuanced exploration of the ethical dilemmas surrounding mercenaries and the potential for personal redemption even in the most challenging circumstances. As Simon Mann reflects on his past, he leaves behind a legacy that prompts contemplation about the blurred lines between duty, adventure, and the quest for redemption in a complex and ever-changing world.