A Rwandan court Thursday found dissident politician Diane Rwigara not guilty of forgery and inciting insurrection, charges that saw her imprisoned for over a year and highlighted a crackdown on opposition in the country.
"Amnesty International welcomed the court's verdict on Diane and Adeline Rwigara but called on the Rwandan government to do more to protect freedom of expression and political debate: "[They] should never have faced charges for expressing their views.
The three-judge panel said there was no proof that Rwandans had been incited against the state after Rwigara's remarks to the media, and that intercepted WhatsApp audio files of her mother did not incite insurrection and instead were private conversations.
President Paul Kagame faces a flood of global criticism for his spiteful pursuit of a political opponent that included auctioning her personal assets.
Diane Rwigara had earlier been barred from contesting the August 2017 presidential election by the country's electoral authority.
"I will continue my campaign to fight for the rights of all Rwandans", a surprised but happy Rwigara told reporters after celebrating. I am continuing with my political journey. everything I talked about in the past has not been resolved.
Ms Rwigara, who is described as "fearless" by those close to her, is not about to apologise for attempting to hold Rwanda's leaders to account.
Rwigara's father, a prominent businessman who was once close to the ruling Rwandan Patriotic Front (RFP), was killed in a road accident in 2015.
Kagame is praised for leading Rwanda's recovery from the 1994 genocide and for advances in economic development and women's rights, but critics say he does not tolerate criticism.
Meanwhile, she and her mother spent more than a year in prison before their release on bail in October.
Ms Rwigara has repeatedly accused President Kagame of stifling dissent and criticised his party's unyielding grip on power since it assumed control after the country's civil war.
"Our justice works freely, everybody should know that", Kagame said in response to questions about the trial last month.
Since her arrest, Rwigara's brothers and sister have been interrogated, family assets have forcibly been auctioned to pay off a multi-million dollar tax claim, while a hotel they owned was demolished for allegedly failing to abide by city guidelines.