Prague, Nov 20 (CTK) – Respected Arabist Petr Pelikan, older brother of Justice minister Robert Pelikan (ANO), negotiated the exchange of Lebanese agent Ali Fayad for five Czechs kidnapped in Lebanon, the Aktualne.cz server writes, referring to information from four highly trustworthy sources.

Besides, Petr Pelikan, who studied in Lebanon in the past and is a Muslim convert, stayed in Beirut after the exchange was agreed as a safeguard for the local government, the server writes.

His brother, Minister Pelikan, signed his authorisation letter in which he expressed full trust for him and pledged to meet all commitments that he would accept on behalf of him.

Neither the minister nor his brother commented on the information.

In reaction, Czech Foreign Minister Lubomir Zaoralek (Social Democrats, CSSD) told commercial Prima TV that Petr Pelikan played a role in the case, but that it definitively was not “a safeguard or a key role.”

Five men, interpreter from Arabic Adam Homsi, defence lawyer Jan Svarc, journalists Miroslav Dobes and Pavel Kofron and military intelligence agent Martin Psik, were kidnapped in the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon near the Syrian border in July 2015. Svarc was Fayad’s lawyer in the Czech Republic.

Czech diplomacy and secret services, including the military intelligence (VZ), were striving for the five men’s release in vain before Petr Pelikan’s involvement.

After Pelikan negotiated the exchange, he offered to the other side to return to Lebanon and wait there until the prisoners in both countries were released. This was a gesture of good will, a source told the web.

The five men returned to the Czech Republic in February 2016.

On the day of their return, Fayad was released from custody in the Czech Republic. Shortly afterwards, Defence Minister Martin Stropnicky (ANO) confirmed to the media that the five Czechs’ release was made conditional on the Czech Republic’s refusal to extradite Fayad to the United States.

The U.S. demanded his extradition on suspicion of support for a terrorist organisation.