Burnley family rejoice after son is released from Syria detention

Kristian with his mother, Andrea, before he was detained in Syria
Kristian with his mother, Andrea, before he was detained in Syria

The Burnley-born parents of Kristian Lee Baxter, a Canadian who went missing in Syria in December last year, rejoiced today at news of his release by Syrian authorities.

Kristian's mother Andrea, who is originally from Burnley, but now lives in Canada, and stepfather, Jean-Guy Leclair, had not heard from Kristian since days after his arrival in Syria.

Kristian (45), had visited the Middle East, including Syria, intending to visit historical and cultural sites.

The family is not aware of any charges brought against him, however, they believe he may have broken regulations relating to travel requirements in Syria, which has been in the grip of civil war since 2011.

In a bid to get help for her son, Andrea had written to several ambassadors who have embassies in Syria.

On his release, she released a statement to the Burnley Express from the family's residence in Nanaimo. She said: "I’m ecstatic that Kristian is on his way home. Our family is grateful for the efforts of Global Affairs Canada, which worked consistently, relentlessly, and professionally for Kristian’s release and collaborated with our professional consultants, Calvin Chrustie and Timo der Weduwen, of InterVentis Global, and John Weston, of Pan Pacific Law Corporation. We also thank the Lebanese Government for its key role in the release.”

The family recognizes others were involved in supporting them locally, nationally and internationally and wish to thank them. In anticipation of Kristian’s arrival in Canada, the family requests privacy at this time.

Although he was born in Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, Kristian is passionate about Burnley, the hometown of his parents.

Kristian, who moved to live in Canada when he was one, has visited the town regularly since he was a child and set up a Facebook page devoted to Burnley's histor history and heritage.

Burnley Lancashire Now and Then, now has over 16,000 members.

Andrea grew up in Burnley Wood and attended St Mary's RC Primary and the former St Hilda's High schools.