Canadian man held by Assad regime is freed in Beirut
Canadian Kristian Lee Baxter, who was being held in Syria, reacts during a news conference, after being released, in Beirut, Lebanon Aug. 9, 2019. (Mohamed Azakir/Reuters)
Date: 2019-08-09 17:11
A Canadian citizen held by the Assad regime since last year was released in Lebanon on Friday (August 9) and broke down in tears at a news conference, saying he thought he would be held forever.
“I didn’t know if anyone knew if I was alive,” said Kristian Lee Baxter, struggling to speak as he choked back tears while sitting alongside Canada’s ambassador to Lebanon and the Lebanese security chief in Beirut.
Baxter, wearing a grey t-shirt, was detained while traveling 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, who last month mediated the release of a US citizen in Syria.
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 sob.
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 traveling in Syria without a visa.
Several Western citizens have been held in Syria since the war began there in 2011, including some by 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 Assad regime’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 regime checkpoint in Damascus in 2017.
The Syrian Network for Human Rights records 127,916 currently detained or disappeared by the Assad regime since 2011 and says 14,000 prisoners have died of torture.
Based on Reuters
Based on Reuters