A Syrian man who was stranded in an airport for more than six months has arrived in Canada after being granted asylum.
Hassan al-Kontar was welcomed by his supporters upon arrival in Vancouver late on Monday local time, telling one of the women who had fought to get him to Canada, “When I was thinking of hope, her face was coming to my mind.”
“I did not believe it until they showed me the ticket,” he told Canada’s CBC News.
He had been stuck in the transit zone of Malaysia’s Kuala Lumpur international airport since March 7. Two months ago Malaysian authorities placed him in a detention center.
Kontar's situation came to international attention when he began tweeting about what his daily life was like, sharing how and where he slept, ate, and washed.
Speaking to BuzzFeed News from the airport in May, Kontar was fearful for his future. “I [have] become less hopeful,” he said, despite thousands following his every move and campaigning for his exit. “I have no one.”
The 37-year-old’s followers last heard from him at the start of October, but yesterday he posted for the first time in eight weeks, from an airport in Taiwan.
Kontar, sporting a thick beard and long hair, began the video by apologizing for his appearance, which he likened to something “from the Stone or Middle Ages.”
“For now it’s not important where I have been, or what was going on with me,” he says in the video, revealing he is traveling to Vancouver. “The past is no longer with us. What is important is today, and tomorrow, the present and the future.”