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Russian traveler freed after three years in captivity in Syria — FSB

October 14, 2016, 15:55 UTC+3

Konstantin Zhuravlev came to Syria planning to walk all the way to the Sahara to live in the desert for 21 days but was captured by militants and held hostage for three years

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© Valeriy Sharifulin/TASS

MOSCOW, October 13./TASS/. Konstantin Zhuravlev, a Russian national captured in Syria three years ago by an Islamist group has been returned home, the public relations center of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) announced.

"A Russian national, Konstantin Zhuravlev, born in 1981, has been returned to the territory of the Russian Federation," it said. The man "was kidnapped in the north of Syria by an armed group in October 2013, as he was travelling the world, and was held there by force for three years."

Zhuravlev was turned over to his relatives after the Federal Security Service completed all the necessary procedures.

TASS earlier reported that Zhuravlev went missing in Syria near the city of Aleppo as he was hitchhiking from Turkey to the Sahara across Syria, where he planned to spend several weeks as part of his project called "Alone with the Desert." Gunmen from the Islamist group, Liwa al-Tawhid, accused him of spying for the government in Damascus.

An officer of the Syrian security service earlier told TASS that Zhuravlev had crossed into Syria without official reasons, which is a crime punishable by imprisonment. In this case, the Syrian government couldn’t bear any responsibility for the Russian national, he said. However, the official authorities in Damascus then pledged to make every effort to free the Russian national.

After Zhuravlev was captured, his relatives turned to law enforcement officials and criminal proceedings were launched in Russia under Part 3 of Article 126 of the Russian Criminal Code "Abduction of a person by an organized group".

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