Czech diplomats secure release of Polish 'terrorist' in Syria
Thursday, January 26, 2017
The Czech government on Monday announced its diplomats had secured the release of a Polish citizen imprisoned for terrorism in Syria. The Polish foreign ministry on Tuesday confirmed the release of Leszek Panek, 54, from .
Polish media reports Panek, who vanished in late 2015 after crossing into Syria via Lebanon, suffers ill mental health. He had previously been travelling around Poland to warn of impending nuclear Armageddon. A statement from the Czech Presidential office said Panek's condition was "satisfactory".
Panek requires crutches after he was shot during his arrest by the Syrian army in Homs. He faced the death penalty after being accused of "activities linked to terrorism". The Czech statement said he was released for humanitarian reasons. When Polish authorities learned of Panek's location last year they tried to negotiate his release before seeking Czech help.
The Czech embassy is the only representation of any European Union nation in Syria and as such it represents all other EU members as well as the United States in the nation. , head advisor on foreign policy for the Czech President, said Ambassador Eva Filipi in Syria and her counterpart in Lebanon secured the release with their "empathy and energy". Filipi has been praised by Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister who last year spoke of her commitment to Syria despite danger and political turmoil.
Kmoníček travelled to Beirut to witness Panek's transfer to the Polish embassy in Lebanon. The Polish foreign ministry says he is expected home imminently, and that he went to Syria in order to convert people away from Islam to instead follow Christianity. A Czech Presidential spokesperson said negotiators worked in both Prague in the Czech Republic and Damascus in Syria, where the Czech embassy is located, for several months.
- Daniela Lazarová. "Czech diplomats negotiate release of Polish national held in Syria" — , January 24, 2017
- "Polish man sentenced to death in Syria has been released" — , January 24, 2017
- Jan Lopatka. "Czechs say Polish man released after being held in Syria since 2015" — , January 23, 2017