Lebanon’s security chief announces release of Canadian held in Syria

Lebanon’s security chief Abbas Ibrahim mediated last month the release of US citizen Sam Goodwin from detention in Syria. (File photo: AFP)

Lebanon’s general security chief Abbas Ibrahim announced on Friday the release of Canadian citizen Kristian Lee Baxter who was held in Syria last year.

The Canadian citizen appeared at a news conference in Beirut with Ibrahim.

“I thought I would be there forever,” said Baxter.

“I didn’t know if anyone knew if I was alive,” added Baxter, struggling to speak as he choked back tears while sitting alongside Canada’s ambassador to Lebanon and the Lebanese security chief.

Baxter, wearing a grey t-shirt, was detained while travelling in Syria last year, though it was not clear what he was doing there and the Canadian ambassador Emmanuelle Lamoureux said she could not give any details about the case.

Baxter thanked both the Canadian embassy and the Lebanese authorities for helping him get out of Syria.

Lamoureux thanked Lebanese security chief Abbas Ibrahim.

Ibrahim said Baxter had been detained for reasons related to breaking Syrian law.

“I thought I would be there forever,” Baxter said.

“I didn’t know if anyone knew if I was alive,” he added, and then began to sobs.

It was unclear what Baxter was doing in Syria at the time of his detention.

Sam Goodwin, the US citizen freed last month, had been travelling in Syria without a visa.

Several Western citizens have been held in Syria since the civil war began there in 2011, including some by extremist groups such as ISIS.

The United States has said it believes US journalist Austin Tice, who has been held in Syria since 2012, is alive and Washington has sought the help of the Syrian government’s ally Russia to free him.

Last year the family of another American, Majd Kamalmaz, told the New York Times that he had disappeared at a government checkpoint in Damascus in 2017.

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:55 - GMT 06:55
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