British Columbia detained in Syria last year freed after Lebanese mediation

Cheryl Sanders
August 12, 2019

Baxter, wearing a grey t-shirt, was detained while traveling in Syria previous 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.

Canadian Kristian Lee Baxter, 44, who was detained for nine months in Syria, was released after Lebanese officials stepped in to ensure his freedom.

Canadian media reported Baxter's disappearance in December, saying Baxter travelled to war-torn Syria, seeking adventure.

A Canadian man has been released after eight months of detention by Syrian authorities, the former prisoner and Lebanon's security chief said at a news conference in Beirut on Friday.

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Lamoureux thanked Lebanese security chief Major General Abbas Ibrahim, who last month mediated the release of a US citizen in Syria.

A spokesman for Global Affairs Canada, which manages the country's diplomatic relations, told AFP earlier this year that "a Canadian citizen has been detained in Syria", without providing any further details, due to reasons of confidentiality. He had arrived in Syria on November 26 and was contacting her daily, but after she received the last message from him she discovered that "there was no Canadian Embassy operating in Syria".

His mother, Andrea Leclair, previously described her son as a "world traveller" and "adventurer".

Lamoureux said Baxter's release marked a "wonderful day for Canadians" and he thanked the Lebanese authorities for helping with this "wonderful outcome". "I didn't know if anyone knew if I was alive". Freeland advised that "this is a case that should remind us all to exercise a high degree of caution when traveling to risky parts of the world".

"I would like to thank the Lebanese for helping me get free", Baxter said. Last month, Ibrahim mediated the release of American traveller Sam Goodwin, who had been held in Syria for two months.

This is the second time Lebanon has helped release a foreigner held in Syria. The circumstances of Goodwin's detention in northeastern Syria in May were unclear.

There was no immediate comment from the Syrian government. "But I think this is also a case that should remind us all to exercise a high degree of caution when travelling to unsafe parts of the world". Rebels were also responsible for a wave of kidnapping for ransom, while Islamic State militants beheaded foreign captives as part of their terror campaign.

Ibrahim said the mediation efforts put his country in a good light. "We need this image at the moment".

Canada's foreign ministry said in a short statement on Friday they were "very relieved" at Mr Baxter's release and thanked the Lebanese government for its assistance in the case. The war has resulted in the deaths of an estimated 500,000 people and displaced half of the population.

Other reports by iNewsToday