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News Flash: Author Roman Payne Freed From Exile In Africa

Moroccan King, Mohammed VI, grants Payne a full pardon.  US Consulate escorts author in secrecy from Marrakech to Casablanca, then flies him safely home to his native city of Seattle

Above: Jetlagged, disheveled, but very happy, Roman Payne (right), was greeted at the Seattle airport today by his uncle, the businessman John Crowley. The two had not seen each other in 25 years.

Family, friends, and fans of the author Roman Payne are celebrating his safe return to America today after he has been living in Africa for the past two years.  Eleven months ago, his passport was confiscated after a civil process when the government wanted to “learn more about his life in Morocco.” They gave Payne some trumped-up charges and cited some of his writing in the charges. The author was forced to remain within the kingdom of Morocco (under penalty of imprisonment should he try to leave) for an undetermined period of time.

Last Wednesday, Morocco’s king, Mohammed VI, made a surprising telephone call to the judge presiding over Payne’s case.  The king told the judge that the novelist was to receive a full pardon, and that his passport was to be returned to him at once.  The king ordered that the record was to read that Roman Payne was found “innocent” of all charges.  That day, the chief of police in Rabat, the capital of Morocco, lifted the border block on his name.

Yet once the judgment went public in Morocco, two separate calls from two different individuals were made to the police, issuing anonymous death threats against the author.  The police informed the US Consulate of the threats.  The Consulate immediately telephoned Payne and urged him to go into hiding, to tell no one he was leaving, to stay off the streets and avoid meeting any of his friends.  They asked him to pack his luggage as soon as possible and meet them in four hours at a certain location in Marrakech (it takes four hours to travel by train from the Consulate in Casablanca to Marrakech where Payne was living).  Four hours later, three American diplomats to Morocco arrived and escorted Payne safely and in complete secrecy to the Consulate in Casablanca where they lodged him until they could fly him to America.  He had not been to America in almost 20 years, as he moved to Paris in 1999 (where he lived for 15 years).  He spent the next couple years travelling, living in Greece, and Spain and the Canary Islands.  The author finally immigrated to Morocco in December, 2016 and spent exactly two years in Africa.

Roman Payne is the author of wandering.  The 20-year length of his Odyssey was intentional, for that was the length of the wanderings of his literary hero Odysseus from The Odyssey.  Payne coined the word “wanderess” (feminine form of “wanderer”).  And his fifth novel, “The Wanderess,” became a success.  It influenced everything from high fashion in the India, to film in England, to pop music in America.  One quote from the novel in particular inspired women around the world:

 “She was free in her wildness.  She was a wanderess, a drop of free water.  She belonged to no man and to no city.”

World-famous pop star, Halsey, was a fan of Payne’s “Wanderess” before she became famous; and she used this quote in the chorus of her song, “Hurricane,” on her debut album.  The song became a hit (the video has received over 31 million views on YouTube!).  Halsey wrote on her Facebook page that it was Payne’s “The Wanderess” that gave her the courage and inspiration to become a strong woman—strong, fearless, courageous enough to become famous (she sold out Madison Square Garden on her first tour).

In the East, one of India’s biggest celebrities, Masaba Gupta (Bollywood film star and fashion designer) was so inspired by Payne’s novel that she named her fashion collection “Wanderess.”  The “Wanderess” collection was chosen to be the opening show at India’s 2015 Fashion Week.

Today, Payne arrived at Seattle’s airport and was stunned by everything he saw (he hadn’t been to his hometown in 22 years).  He was greeted at the airport by his uncle, the businessman, John Crowley.  His uncle took him out around downtown Seattle to reorient the author with America.

“It’s a hallucinatory experience coming here,” said Payne, “After two years in one of the world’s poorest countries—to come here to this technologically-advanced, and socially-advanced wonderland.  The people here seem like a completely different species.”

So, what are the author’s plans now that he is back in America?

“I’m going on a nationwide “Wanderess” book tour; and I am going to finish writing my Saharan story, an autobiographical novel about my two years in Marrakech.  It is planned for publication this spring.  I am grateful for my life.  I am grateful to the king of Morocco, and I am grateful and overjoyed to be in America today.  Today I love my country.  I always preferred Paris, however, and I would probably have returned to France when the judge declared me innocent, if it weren’t for three American diplomats in Morocco who became my dear friends: Saïd, Najiba, and Merica.  They were the most generous and gracious people, they protected me and defended me to the Moroccan government; they made regular trips to Marrakech to see to my well-being.  They showed me just how powerful the United States is, but also how generous and protective America is of its citizens exiled abroad.  If it weren’t for my friends at the consulate, I wouldn’t have moved back to the United States; but they showed me how beautiful American people can be.”


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