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British Columbian freed from Syria after Lebanese mediation

Last Updated Aug 9, 2019 at 7:06 am PST

Kristian Lee Baxter, 44, is seen in this undated handout photo. (THE CANADIAN PRESS)

A B.C. man has been freed after being imprisoned in Syria since last year

Speaking in Lebanon after his release, Kristian Lee Baxter says he thought he would be imprisoned in Syria 'forever'

Lebanon's general security chief says Baxter had been held in Syria since last year for 'violating Syrian laws'

BEIRUT — A Canadian citizen, freed after being imprisoned in Syria since last year, has appeared before reporters in Lebanon.

Kristian Lee Baxter dissolved into tears at the press conference in Beirut on Friday, saying he thought he “would be there forever.”

“I didn’t know if anyone knew if I was alive,” he said. “I would just like to thank the Canadian embassy for helping me. I would like to thank the Lebanese for helping me get free.”

Baxter then got off the podium.

Lebanon’s general security chief, Abbas Ibrahim, says Lebanese mediation helped secure Baxter’s release.

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

This is the second time Lebanon has helped release a foreigner held in Syria. Last month, Ibrahim also mediated the release of an American traveller, Sam Goodwin, held in Syria for two months.

Meantime, a statement from Global Affairs Canada says the government is “relieved” at the British Columbia native’s release. The statement says 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.

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