The Exile Files (cont’d)

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King Leka of Albania After Leka was spirited from Albania as an infant during World War II, British and U.S. secret agents attempted to return him to power in the 1950s by launching a clandestine raid from Italy. But double agent Kim Philby thwarted the plot by alerting the Soviets. Undeterred, Leka (who was, coincidentally, a ninth cousin of deposed President Richard Nixon) continued to pursue a putsch. He failed, and in 1979 Leka emigrated to South Africa, where he and Australian-born Queen Susan live on a rundown farm near Johannesburg. He tried to return to Albania in 1993 after the communists fell, but was refused entry because of the occupation listed on his passport: “King.”

King Constantine XII of Greece Seven years after winning a gold medal in yachting for Greece at the 1960 Olympics, King Constantine ran aground. He backed an unsuccessful coup against the governing military junta and was promptly shipped off to England. Any hopes of reclaiming the throne were dashed in 1973 when the public voted 2-to-1 to abolish the monarchy. But don’t cry for Constantine. He raised millions by unloading a parcel of land near Athens and, if he’s ever in a real bind, can always hit up his nearby relatives, the Windsors.

King Michael of Romania After the communists forced his abdication in 1947, Michael arrived in England with little more than the clothes on his back. The man who once owned 159 castles was forced to peddle vegetables to make ends meet. Eventually he moved to Switzerland, where he was a test pilot. Of all the Eastern European royals, Michael has the best shot at getting his old job back. During a two-day visit home in 1992, the beloved king drew crowds of more than half a million cheering monarchists.




Idi Amin Cannibalistic crazyman Amin escaped from Uganda to Libya in 1979 at the invitation of the equally erratic Muammer Qaddafi. Later, Amin slipped into Saudi Arabia for an all-expenses-paid exile. He now resides outside of Jedda with the surviving members of his family. (Amin is reported to have eaten a son and fatally dismembered one of his wives.) Foreign diplomats have spotted the white-robed Amin sipping coffee and jawing with Ugandan ex-pats at a local hotel.

Mengistu Haile Mariam The golden rule of stress-free exile: Never embarrass your hosts. It’s a lesson apparently lost on Ethiopia’s deposed despot Mengistu. In 1992, he upset his Zimbabwean patrons by publicly calling for a coup in his native land. As a result, the Zimbabwean government kept him incommunicado by isolating his three-bedroom house with a 24-hour roadblock.





Jean-Claude Duvalier While most Haitians knew him as “Baby Doc,” those close to Duvalier called him “Baskethead”–though not to his face, of course. For 15 years Duvalier ruled Haiti by repression. Then in 1986, after simmering unrest boiled over, Duvalier and his family “retired” to a palatial villa near Cannes, paid for with millions looted from the Haitian treasury. But a costly divorce, a spending spree, and an international effort to freeze his assets left Duvalier penniless. Evicted from his villa in February 1994, Duvalier now lives in a shabby cottage with his mother and his five dogs. French Telecom later cut off his phone service because of unpaid bills. He hasn’t been heard from since.

Carlos Salinas de Gotari Ex-presidents of Mexico usually aren’t exiled–they just fade away. Not so for Salinas, believed to be hiding out on a yacht in Cuban waters. Although yet to be charged, many believe Salinas helped his brother, Raul, sock away millions of pilfered pesos in a Swiss bank account. Salinas is also blamed for crippling a robust economy with irresponsible fiscal policies. His punishment: “Salinas will be lynched in a minute if he comes back here,” predicts one Mexican pundit.

Alfredo Stroessner Former Paraguayan strongman Alfredo Stroessner was well-known for corruption. For harboring Nazis. And for tyranny. But a military coup in 1989 spoiled his fun. Stroessner scampered off to a plush, well-guarded Brazilian mansion. Reports say Stroessner enjoys fishing and watching television.




Nguyen Van Thieu When the Viet Cong closed their fist around Saigon in 1975, South Vietnamese President Thieu made the wisest decision of his eight-year reign–he got out of town. Critics speculate that Thieu made off with much of the South Vietnamese treasury. “I have a very modest life,” Thieu recently protested to a Dallas reporter. “Vietnamese don’t eat too much, don’t drink too much. I read. I discuss. I work in my home.” That would be a house in a ritzy Boston suburb he just sold for a modest $775,000.

His Majesty Mohammad Zahir Shah Deposed in 1973 by a cousin while taking mud baths at an Italian island resort, the Afghani king settled into a rustic villa in a Roman suburb. Now in retirement, His Majesty reportedly practices gymnastics, is an avid chess player, and has experienced a much more peaceful couple of decades than his old subjects in Afghanistan.

Pol Pot After orchestrating the genocide of more than 1 million cambodian countrymen, “Brother Number One” was ousted by Vietnamese troops in 1979. Pol Pot makes Idi Amin look like the Dalai Lama. Though he is 67, age hasn’t seemed to dim his blood lust. He often launches terrorist attacks from Khmer Rouge bases in western Cambodia–and occasionally pops over to northern Thailand to trade gems for weapons with crooked Thai generals.


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