Volunteer Surgeon Held by Syria Is Dead

UK's Abbas Khan was due to be released this week
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 17, 2013 2:22 PM CST
Volunteer Surgeon Held by Syria Is Dead
This citizen journalism image shows a general view of Aleppo’s central prison.   (AP Photo/Aleppo Media Center, AMC)

A young British doctor who traveled to Syria as a volunteer to treat civilians is dead under suspicious circumstances after more than a year in custody, reports the Daily Mail. The official story is that surgeon Abbas Khan, 32, hanged himself in his cell with his pajama bottoms, reports the New York Times. But neither his family nor the British Foreign Office are buying it. “My brother was going to be released at the end of the week,” says Afroze Khan. “My brother knew that. He was ready to come back home. He was happy and looking forward to being released.”

British Foreign Office Minister Hugh Robertson says the UK is demanding an investigation: "There is no excuse whatsoever for the treatment that he has suffered by the Syrian authorities who have in effect murdered a British national who was in their country to help people who were injured during their civil war." Khan's mother visited him recently and said he was down to about 70 pounds and showed signs of torture. Bashar al-Assad had approved his release—it was supposed to happen on Friday—and one theory is that someone in his regime who hopes to scuttle peace talks that Britain is helping to organize ordered Khan's killing, says the BBC. (More Abbas Khan stories.)

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