Simon Mann

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Person.png Simon Mann   Powerbase Sourcewatch Twitter WebsiteRdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
Simon Mann1.jpg
In London in 2012
Born26 June 1952
Aldershot, England, UK
Alma materEton
Perpetrator ofEquatorial Guinea/2004 coup d'état attempt
Relatives • George Mann
• Frank Mann
Simon Mann and the Gaddafi extraction plot

Simon Francis Mann is a British mercenary and former British SAS officer. He had been serving a 34-year prison sentence in Equatorial Guinea for his role in a failed coup d'état in 2004, before receiving a presidential pardon on humanitarian grounds on 2 November 2009.[1] Simon Mann was extradited from Zimbabwe to Equatorial Guinea on 1 February 2008,[2] having been accused of planning a coup d'état to overthrow the government by leading a mercenary force into the capital Malabo in an effort to overthrow President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo. Charges in South Africa of aiding a coup in a foreign country were dropped on 23 February 2007,[3] but the charges remained in Equatorial Guinea, where he had been convicted in absentia in November 2004. He lost an extradition hearing to Equatorial Guinea after serving three years of a four-year prison sentence in Zimbabwe for the same crimes and being released early on good behaviour.[4]


Simon Mann's father, George Mann, captained the England cricket team in the late 1940s and was an heir to a stake in the Watney Mann brewing empire that closed in 1979, having been acquired by Grand Metropolitan (which, in 1997, became Diageo plc on its merger with Guinness). His mother is South African.

Military career

After leaving Eton College, Simon Mann trained to be an officer at the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst, and was commissioned into the Scots Guards on 16 December 1972. By 1976 he held the rank of Lieutenant. Mann then joined the Special Air Service, the army's special-forces unit, rising swiftly through the ranks to become a commander. After reportedly serving in Cyprus, Germany, central America and Northern Ireland, he left the military in 1981, returning to its ranks only briefly 10 years later to work for Britain's Gulf War commander, Gen Peter de la Billiere.

Post-military career

During the 1980s, Simon Mann sold computer security equipment and ran a business providing bodyguards to wealthy clients. In 1989, with South African special forces officer Eeben Barlow, Mann co-founded Executive Outcomes Ltd, a Private Military Contractor (PMC). Executive Outcomes developed a formidable reputation delivering advice - and armed guards - to protect businesses operating in conflict zones.

In 1991, when Simon Mann returned from his service in the Gulf, he entered the oil industry to work with Tony Buckingham, who also had a military background and had been a diver in the North Sea oil industry before joining a Canadian oil firm. In 1993, UNITA rebels in Angola seized the port of Soyo, and closed its oil installations. The Angolan government under Jose Eduardo dos Santos sought mercenaries to seize back the port and asked for assistance from Buckingham, who relayed the request to Eeben Barlow and Mann.[5]

Sandline International

In the mid-1990s, Simon Mann entered a partnership with fellow former Scots Guardsman, Tim Spicer. They established another Private Military Company, Sandline International, which operated in Angola and was soon being linked to the civil war in Sierra Leone. Its role in the conflict remains open to speculation. The firm is believed to have delivered "logistical support", including guns, to the country while it was under a UN arms embargo. According to Michael Gove of the The Times, mercenaries working for Mann helped defeat the rebels led by Foday Sankoh and paved the way for "democratic rule".

In 1997 Sandline received a commission from the government of Papua New Guinea to suppress a rebellion on the island of Bougainville and the company came to international prominence, but received much negative publicity following the Sandline affair. Sandline International announced the closure of the company's operations on 16 April 2004. In an interview on the Today Programme, Mann indicated that the operations in Angola had netted more than £10,000,000.

Equatorial Guinea coup attempt

Full article:

On 7 March 2004, Mann and 69 others were arrested in Zimbabwe when their Boeing 727 was seized by security forces during a stop-off at Harare's airport to be loaded with £100,000 worth of weapons and equipment. The men were charged with violating the country's immigration, firearms and security laws and later accused of engaging in an attempt to stage a coup d'état in Equatorial Guinea. Meanwhile eight suspected mercenaries, one of whom later died in prison, were detained in Equatorial Guinea in connection with the alleged plot. Mann and the others claimed that they were not on their way to Equatorial Guinea but were in fact flying to the Democratic Republic of Congo in order to provide security for diamond mines owned by JFPI Corporation. Mann and his colleagues were put on trial in Zimbabwe, and, on 27 August, Mann was found guilty of attempting to buy arms for an alleged coup plot and sentenced to 7 years imprisonment.[6] 66 of the others were acquitted.[7]

On 25 August 2004, Mark Thatcher, son of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, was arrested at his home in Cape Town, South Africa. He eventually pleaded guilty (under a plea bargain) to negligently supplying financial assistance for the plot.[8] The 14 men in the mercenary advance guard that were caught in Equatorial Guinea were sentenced to jail for 34 years.[9]

Among the advance guard was Nick du Toit who claimed that he had been introduced to Thatcher by Mann. Investigations later revealed in Mann's holdings' financial records that large transfers of money were made to Nick du Toit, as well as approximately US$2 million coming in from an untraceable and unknown source. On 10 September Mann was sentenced to seven years in jail. His compatriots received one-year sentences for violating immigration laws and their two pilots got 16 months. The group's Boeing 727 was seized, as well as the US$180,000 that was found on board the plane.

Charges dropped and extradition

On 23 February 2007, charges were dropped against Mann and the other alleged conspirators in South Africa. Mann remained in Zimbabwe, where he was convicted of charges from the same incident. On 2 May 2007 a Zimbabwe court ruled that Mann should be extradited to Equatorial Guinea to face charges, although the Zimbabweans promised that he would not face the death penalty. His extradition was described as the "oil for Mann" deal, in reference to the large amounts of oil that Mugabe has managed to secure from Equatorial Guinea. The Black Beach prison in Equatorial Guinea, where Mann was sent, is notorious for its bad conditions. Mann lost his last appeal against the decision to extradite him.[10] In a last-ditch effort on 30 January 2008, Mann tried to appeal the judgment to the Zimbabwean Supreme Court.[11]

Extradition to Equatorial Guinea

The following day, Mann was deported to Equatorial Guinea in secret, leading to claims by his lawyers that the extradition was hastened to defeat the possibility of appeal to the Supreme Court.[12][13]

Upon Mann's arrival in Equatorial Guinea for his trial in Malabo, Public Prosecutor Jose Olo Obono said that Mann would face three charges – crimes against the head of state, crimes against the government, and crimes against the peace and independence of the state.[14] On 7 July 2008, he was sentenced to 34 years and four months in prison by a Malabo court.[15] He was released on 2 November 2009, on humanitarian grounds.[16][17]

Response by UK Parliamentarians

Concern for Mann's plight was raised in the UK Parliament in the year of his arrest in Zimbabwe by three Conservative Members of Parliament.[18][19][20] During the two years after the government of Equatorial Guinea applied for his extradition, three further Conservative Party MPs submitted written questions.[21][22][23]

There was a request that the United States regime, which had access to Simon Mann in Black Beach Prison on 6 February 2008, exert its influence "to secure [his] safe return".[24] UK officials were granted access to him on 12 February 2008.[25] Labour and other parties expressed little concern about Mann or the others. The only non-Conservative Party MP to submit a question in Parliament about him was Vince Cable,[26] although an Early Day Motion about his treatment in prison received some cross-party support.[27]

On 8 March 2008, Channel 4 in the UK won a legal battle to broadcast an interview with Mann in which he named British political figures, including Ministers, alleged to have given tacit approval to the coup plot.[28] In testimony he spoke frankly about the events leading to the botched attempt to topple Equatorial Guinea's president.

Despite their charges being unrelated, Simon Mann was tried alongside six Progress Party of Equatorial Guinea activists being held on weapons charges, including opposition leader Severo Moto's former secretary Gerardo Angüe Mangue.[29] On 7 July 2008, Mann was sentenced by the Equatorial Guinea court to more than 34 years in jail.[30]


On 2 November 2009 he was given "a complete pardon on humanitarian grounds" by President Teodoro Obiang Nguema. He was back in England by 6 November 2009.[31]

Mann in popular media

  • In 2002 Mann played Colonel Derek Wilford of the Parachute Regiment for Granada Television's Bloody Sunday, a dramatisation by Paul Greengrass of the events of Bloody Sunday.[32]
  • The alleged coup planned for Equatorial Guinea is the subject of the film Coup!, written by John Fortune. Simon Mann is played by Jared Harris, with Robert Bathurst as Mark Thatcher. (The film takes care not to suggest that Thatcher knew about the coup plot.) It was broadcast on BBC Two on 30 June 2006 and on ABC in Australia on 21 January 2008. [33]
  • Simon Mann was interviewed from prison in the documentary Once Upon A Coup, which aired on PBS's Wide Angle in August 2009.


Mann's memoir, Cry Havoc, was published in 2011, to mixed reviews.[34][35]


An event carried out

Equatorial Guinea/2004 coup d'état attemptSouth Africa
Equatorial Guinea


A Document by Simon Mann

TitleDocument typePublication dateSubject(s)
Document:Simon Mann Says He Was Asked to Help Start the Iraq Warinterview23 January 2013Simon Mann


Related Document

TitleTypePublication dateAuthor(s)Description
Document:Simon Mann Says He Was Asked to Help Start the Iraq Warinterview23 January 2013Simon Mann
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  1. "British coup plot mercenary Simon Mann has been pardoned"
  2. "Zimbabwe sends British mercenary to face the despot he plotted to overthrow"
  3. "SA court drops coup plot charges"
  4. "Coup plotter faces life in Africa's most notorious jail"
  5. "Perpetuating Disinformation" Eeben Barlow's Military and Security Blog
  6. "'Mercenary leader' found guilty"
  7. "Zimbabwe jails UK 'coup plotter'"
  8. "Mark Thatcher: Man on the run" In January 2005 Thatcher pled guilty in South Africa, after a plea bargain, to "unwittingly" abetting the coup. He was fined 3 million rand (£266,000), given a suspended four-year jail term, and obliged to leave South Africa, his home for a decade.
  9. "Coup plotters jailed in Equatorial Guinea"
  10. "Mann in the middle of two African dictators" Hugh Russell, The First Post, 2 May 2007.
  11. "BBC NEWS, Mann loses extradition appeal"
  12. "Zimbabwe deports Mann to Eq. Guinea"
  13. "Zimbabwe accused as Briton sent to Equatorial Guinea jail"
  14. "UK mercenary on trial in Equatorial Guinea"
  15. "Mann jailed for Eq. Guinea coup plot"
  16. "British mercenary Simon Mann receives presidential pardon"
  17. "Simon Mann returned to England", 6 November 2009
  18. "Business of the House"
  19. "Written answers -Foreign and Commonwealth affairs"
  20. "Foreign and Commonwealth affairs: Simon Mann"
  21. "Foreign and Commonwealth affairs – Equatorial Guinea"
  22. "Foreign and Commonwealth affairs: Simon Mann"
  23. "Foreign and Commonwealth affairs: Simon Mann"
  24. "Foreign and Commonwealth affairs: Simon Mann"
  25. "House of Lords – Equatorial Guinea: Simon Mann"
  26. "Foreign and Commonwealth affairs: Equatorial Guinea: Prisoners"
  27. "EDM: Conduct of Zimbabwe and Equatorial Guinea towards Simon Mann"
  28. "I was not the main man", Jonathan Miller, Channel 4, 11 March 2008.
  29. "Equatorial Guinea"
  30. "Profile: Simon Mann"
  31. "BLACK BEACH: Simon Mann's African Coup"
  32. "IMDb entry"
  33. "BBC Drama – Coup!"
  34. Tim Butcher, Daily Telegraph, 7 November 2011.
  35. Anthony Mockler, The Spectator, 26 November 2011.

External links

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