Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government “in effect murdered” Abbas Khan, a British doctor who traveled to the country to help people wounded in the civil war, U.K. Foreign Office minister Hugh Robertson said.
Khan, 32, an orthopedic surgeon from south London, was found dead in his cell after being held for more than a year. The Syrian government said he committed suicide. Khan’s family challenged that, saying he was in good spirits and due to be released in the next few days, the BBC reported.
“There is no excuse whatsoever for the treatment he has suffered by the Syrian authorities,” Robertson told Sky News television. Assad’s government “in effect murdered a British national who was in their country to help people injured during their civil war,” he said.
Khan committed suicide by hanging himself and there were no signs of violence or resistance on his body, Syria’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement today, citing a medical report.
Deputy Foreign Minister Fayssal Mekdad handed over the report to a member of the Czech Embassy in Damascus, which represents British interests in Syria, according to the statement, carried by Syria’s state-run SANA news agency. Mekdad told the Czech official Syria had been about to offer Khan amnesty as a Christmas gift from the Syrian people to the British people, SANA said.
Khan was arrested at a checkpoint in Aleppo last November after entering Syria without a visa, his family said.
U.K. lawmaker George Galloway said that he was due to fly to Syria to oversee the release of Khan on Dec. 20 after negotiations with the Syrian authorities. Khan may have been killed by people within the regime who disapproved of Assad’s decision to release him, Galloway told the BBC.