Family says British doctor died in Syrian jail
Abbas Khan, a 32-year-old orthopedic surgeon from south London, travelled to the northern city of Aleppo last year to help treat civilians
A British surgeon who was imprisoned in war-torn Syria for over a year after volunteering to work in a hospital has died in detention, his family told British media on Tuesday.
Abbas Khan, a 32-year-old orthopedic surgeon from south London, travelled to the northern city of Aleppo - the scene of particularly fierce fighting - last year to help treat civilians.
His brother Afroze said Syrian authorities had promised to release him this week but on Monday they told the family he had died.
Afroze Khan, 34, told the BBC: “My brother was going to be released at the end of the week. We were given assurance by the Syrian government.
“My brother knew that. He was ready to come back home. He was happy and looking forward to being released.”
The family said it had no information on how he died.
Afroze Khan accused Britain’s Foreign Office of failing to take action.
“We are devastated, distraught and we are angry at the Foreign Office for dragging their feet for 13 months.”
The Foreign Office said it was “extremely concerned” by the reports and was “urgently seeking confirmation from the Syrian authorities”.
“If these tragic reports are true, responsibility for Dr. Khan’s death lies with them and we will be pressing for answers about what happened,” a spokeswoman said.
The Foreign Office said it had sought consular access to Khan, but all its requests had been ignored.
“We have consistently sought consular access to Dr. Khan and information on his detention, directly and through the Russians, Czechs and others,” the spokeswoman said.
A junior foreign minister, Hugh Robertson, wrote to the Syrian authorities in November expressing Britain’s concerns about Khan’s welfare and treatment and urged them to review his position.