Canadian Kristian Lee Baxter released from Syria detention

Canadian citizen, Kristian Lee Baxter, appearing at a news conferenceImage copyright

Image caption

Mr Baxter’s family last heard from him on 1 December

A Canadian tourist held in Syrian detention since 2018 has been released.

Kristian Lee Baxter arrived in the country on 26 November and stopped contacting his family about a week later.

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

“I thought I would be there forever,” Mr Baxter said during an emotional appearance at a news conference in Beirut on Friday.

“I didn’t know if anyone knew if I was alive,” he added.

  • Why is there a war in Syria?

Lebanon’s security chief Abbas Ibrahim, who appeared alongside him, said the Canadian was detained for “reasons related to breaking Syrian law”.

Mr Ibrahim was also involved in securing the release of a US traveller, Sam Goodwin, from Syria last month.

Canada has advised citizens against travelling to Syria since civil war broke out in 2011.

Image copyright

Image caption

Canada’s ambassador to Lebanon, Emmanuelle Lamoureux, was also in attendance

“Syria is not safe for personal travel,” the advisory on their website says. “Attempting any form of travel in this very hazardous security environment would place you at grave risk.”

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.

Mr Baxter, who was 44 when he went missing, was supposed to return home on 13 December.

Ms Leclair told CTV News in January that her son had been staying at a village near the Lebanese border after arriving there from Beirut. He reportedly disappeared while attempting to locate a driver who had gone back to Lebanon to retrieve his luggage, which arrived there by plane after him.

The driver was reportedly detained on the border when a metal detector was found in her son’s bag, Ms Leclair said.

The circumstances of Mr Baxter’s detention and release have not been revealed by officials.