Plzen, West Bohemia, Feb 8 (CTK) – Czech President Milos Zeman received some time ago a letter from the kidnappers who asked for five Czechs detained in Lebanon to be swapped for Ali Fayad, a Lebanese in Czech custody, and he recommended that Fayad be handed not to the kidnappers but to Lebanese bodies, he said on Monday.

If Washington seeks Fayad’s extradition to the USA, it should address the request to the Lebanese authorities, Zeman said during his visit to the Plzen Region.

Fayad is not a Czech citizen but a Lebanese citizen, and he has not been extradited to terrorists but to the Lebanese authorities, “whose employer he possibly is, by the way,” Zeman said.

The USA suspects Fayad and his accomplices of having planned to help terrorists from the Colombian FARC organisation. Arrested by Czech police in April 2014, Fayad was waiting in custody for the extradition to the USA.

However, Czech Justice Minister Robert Pelikan did not give his consent to Fayad’s extradition and decided on his release from custody last week, a few days after the release of the five Czechs in Lebanon.

Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka (Social Democrats, CSSD) said Prague’s step was in harmony with law and the USA should respect it.

The Czech decision was criticised by the USA as a step that will harm bilateral cooperation between the two countries’ law enforcement bodies and encourage criminal gangs and terrorists all over the world.

According to fresh information of the Lebanese server Naharnet, local authorities detained Fayad on his arrival from Prague in Beirut last week.

Fayad’s relatives and fans protested against his detention outside the Justice Palace in Beirut on Monday, demanding his release, Naharnet reported.

Media speculated that Fayad, who left for Lebanon after his release, was swapped for the five Czechs who were kidnapped in Lebanon last July.

Czech Defence Minister Martin Stropnicky said in a media interview that Lebanon’s condition for the release of the Czechs was that Fayad be not extradited to the USA.

Other members of the Czech government did not comment on the case.

“I got involved in the case unintentionally, because I received a letter from the kidnappers several months ago, which proposed a swap of the five detained Czechs for Ali Fayad,” Zeman said.

He said he discussed the letter with Foreign Minister Lubomir Zaoralek (CSSD).

“I recommended that Ali Fayad be handed not to the kidnappers but to the Lebanese authorities,” Zeman said.

He said he discussed the affair with Sobotka and made the same recommendation.

Zeman said Zaoralek informed him about the prepared swap several days before the detained Czechs were released.

In connection with the case, he praised Zaoralek.

“In the same way, I would like to appreciate Justice Minister [Robert] Pelikan (ANO) who defended Czech national interests without yielding to external pressures,” Zeman said.

Zeman repeatedly emphasised that Fayad was not handed over to a terrorist organisation but to regular authorities.

“Recently, the USA swapped its soldier for five detained members of Taliban, which is undoubtedly a terrorist organisation,” Zeman said.