B.C. man detained in Syria last year freed after Lebanese mediation

Kristian Lee Baxter thanked the Lebanese government in a televised news conference in Beirut

A B.C. man detained in Syria since late last year has been released, Lebanese authorities said Friday.

Kristian Lee Baxter, who has been described by his family as a “world traveller,” thanked the Lebanese government for securing his release in a televised news conference in Beirut.

Local media reported Baxter broke down in tears as he described his eight-month ordeal.

“I thought I would be there forever,” Baxter told reporters. “I would like to thank the Lebanese for helping me get free.”

Lebanon’s general security chief, Abbas Ibrahim, said Lebanese mediation helped secure the Canadian’s freedom.

Baxter, who is from Nanaimo, B.C., was detained in Syria in December after seeking adventure in the war-ravaged country.

Ibrahim said Baxter had been held since last year for “violating Syrian laws” but he didn’t elaborate.

READ MORE: Nanaimo ‘adventure’ traveller detained in Syria, missing for more than one month

Canada’s ambassador to Lebanon, Emmanuelle Lamoureux, said she was “delighted with today’s outcome,” adding that “we have our Lebanese friends to thank for it,” according to a report from The Daily Star newspaper.

A statement from Global Affairs Canada said the government is “relieved” at Baxter’s release.

“We would also like to express out appreciation to the government of Lebanon for its assistance,” said the statement.

Global Affairs also said consular services will continue to be provided to Baxter and his family.

Baxter’s mother, Andrea Leclair told The Canadian Press last January, that her son messaged her daily because she was worried after he arrived in Syria on Nov. 26, but he went silent after his last message on Dec. 1.

Leclair described her son as “a world traveller and adventurer” and said he visited a village near the border of Lebanon at the invitation of his girlfriend’s brother-in-law.

She said Baxter was supposed to be home Dec. 13 and his travel visa to Syria expired on Dec. 12 or 13.

The government has been warning Canadians to avoid travelling to Syria since 2011 after the outbreak of a civil war that has attracted foreign powers and spawned a multitude of militias, including a new Islamist terror group, while leaving an estimated 500,000 people dead.

Canada severed diplomatic relations with Syria in 2012, expelling its diplomats and shuttering its embassy.

— With files from The Associated Press, local media

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

 

Lebanon’s General Security Chief Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim, left, speaks with Kristian Lee Baxter, centre, of Nanaimo, B.C., during a press conference in Beirut, Lebanon, Friday, Aug 9, 2019. Baxter was recently released from a Syrian prison to Lebanon after being held since last year. The Lebanese general who mediated his release said Baxter was heading home. It was not clear when Baxter was released from Syria. (The Lebanese General Security Directorate photo)

Just Posted

Lots to do and see at 145th annual Comox Valley Exhibition

The 145th annual Comox Valley Exhibition offered plenty Friday through Monday, with… Continue reading

VIDEO: Courtenay woman meets biological mother, 38 years later

Mother never gave up hope of finding daughter, despite all the obstacles

Fundraisers in place long-time Comox Valley chef

Peter Bradley recovering from emergency brain surgery

Last Simms Park concert of the season to double as a food bank fundraiser

Bring a donation for the food bank to the My Generation concert, Sunday, Aug. 25

City of Courtenay adds pickleball courts Martin Park lacrosse box

Lacrosse, pickleball, and recreational ball hockey players in the Comox Valley can… Continue reading

VIDEO: Ride to Conquer Cancer rolls into Hope

Thousands of cyclist descend on small town for annual cancer fundraiser

VIDEO: Ride to Conquer Cancer rolls into Hope

Thousands of cyclist descend on small town for annual cancer fundraiser

Island murder victim’s mom expresses outrage over mental fitness decision of the accused

Smith vows to keep fighting until justice served for Descoteau

B.C. VIEWS: Pipelines set to roll as federal politicians posture

Projects to drive B.C., Canadian economy in years ahead

B.C. Lions fall to 1-9 after 13-10 loss to Ticats

Lowly Leos have dropped six straight CFL contests

B.C. man who died after rescuing swimmer was known for helping others

Shaun Nugent described as a dad, a coach, a hero and ‘stand-up guy’ at celebration of life

B.C. RCMP plane chases fleeing helicopter as part of major cross-border drug bust

The helicopter eventually landed at a rural property near Chilliwack

Vancouver Island man dead after reported hit-and-run incident

Oceanside RCMP seek public’s help gathering information

Thousands cycle to conquer cancer

The 11th annual Ride to Conquer Cancer took place Saturday morning, Aug. 24 in Surrey, B.C.

Most Read