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US Family Baffled by Son's Link to Failed Congolese Coup; seek release

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Ayize claire

Jun 7, 2024

Family baffled by US man's link to failed Congolese coup

Rebecca Higbee the mother of Tyler Thompson, points to her son and his friend Marcel during his 21st birthday with his family on Thursday, May 30, 2024, in West Jordan, Utah.

Utah resident Tyler Thompson, 21, has been detained in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) following a failed coup attempt last month. His family says they have "zero idea" how he became involved.

Thompson, on his first international trip with friend Marcel Malanga, was caught in the aftermath of a coup led by Marcel's father, Christian Malanga, a former DRC politician. The coup attempt on May 19 resulted in the occupation of the Palais de la Nation by heavily armed men.

Fifty suspects, including three Americans, were detained. Six people, including Christian Malanga, were killed during the incident. Videos show Thompson being assaulted by Congolese security forces. His family has not heard from him since, and US consular officials have been denied access.

Thompson's stepmother, Miranda Thompson, expressed disbelief and concern for his health, describing him as "incredibly kind and generous" and unlikely to participate in a coup willingly.

The family has launched a campaign urging public pressure on US officials to secure Thompson's release. The US State Department confirmed it has requested access to detained US citizens but has not yet received it.

"We just want to know that he's OK and healthy," said Miranda Thompson. "Any parent would want that."

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