Page last updated at 17:11 GMT, Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Simon Mann coup plot documents

Simon Mann in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea in June 2008

Former British soldier Simon Mann, who had been sentenced to 34 years for a coup plot in Equatorial Guinea, has been pardoned by the country's president.

In the days after Mann's arrest in Zimbabwe in March 2004, Newsnight pieced together the anatomy of the attempted coup - who financed it, how it would have worked and what was supposed to happen once the plotters took power.


One of the few things that seems certain about the plot is that it was an attempt to overthrow President Teodoro Obiang Nguema, who has been in power since 1979.


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Both Mann and his co-conspirators have been quoted as saying they were attempting to install exiled opposition leader Severo Moto in the place of Mr Obiang.

A key document which was presented in Mann's trial was the "Contract for a Coup" which purports to be two agreements between "Captain F" - Simon Mann whose middle name is Francis - and Mr Moto.

The copy of the agreements which Newsnight obtained is signed by Mann but does not carry Mr Moto's signature.

Agreement Two says Mann will be paid $15m plus all the expenses of the coup.


At his trial, prosecutors painted Mann as the ringleader who organised mercenaries and arranged for weapons to be sent to Equatorial Guinea.

But he has sought to portray himself as a pawn of international businessmen who were trying to steal power.


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The former Etonian said he had been the "manager, not the architect" of the plot.

Mann had implicated Sir Mark Thatcher and London-based oil billionaire Ely Calil as organisers of the plot.

Mr Calil has strongly denied any involvement in the plot.

Newsnight obtained a copy of a letter written by Mann from his prison cell in Zimbabwe.

In it he refers to "Smelly" and "Scratcher" who told Mann's friends to ring back after the Grand Prix was over when they asked for help with Mann's situation:

"Our situation is not good and it is very URGENT. They get no reply from Smelly and Scratcher asked them to ring back after the Grand Prix race was over!"

"Scratcher" is thought to be Thatcher and "Smelly" to be Mr Calil.

In a separate trial in South Africa in 2005, Thatcher was given a fine and a suspended sentence after pleading guilty to unknowingly helping to finance the plot.

Thatcher has always denied knowledge of and direct involvement in the plot.

Watch the inside story of the attempted coup on Newsnight on Tuesday 3 November at 10.30pm on BBC Two.

Mann sentenced for E Guinea plot
07 Jul 08 |  Africa
Profile: Simon Mann
03 Nov 09 |  Africa
Q&A: Equatorial Guinea coup plot
03 Nov 09 |  Africa
Timeline: E Guinea coup plot
03 Nov 09 |  Africa
Mann changes his tune at trial
07 Jul 08 |  Africa
Country profile: Equatorial Guinea
14 Nov 11 |  Country profiles

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