Newfoundland veteran Michael Kennedy released from Iraq prison
'Knowing that he's safe is my biggest concern,' mother says
A Newfoundland veteran who volunteered to fight ISIS alongside Kurdish troops has been released from an Iraqi jail, his mother confirmed Tuesday afternoon.
Kay Kennedy told CBC News that she received a call from her son Michael Kennedy at about 4 p.m. NT on Tuesday afternoon, telling her that he was free.
Michael Kennedy, who had been fighting in Iraq and Syria, was detained by authorities in Iraq last Tuesday as he was leaving the region to return home for the holidays, according to a report in the National Post.
I'm just so overcome with relief, I mean it's just unbelievable. - Kay Kennedy
"I'm just so overcome with relief, I mean it's just unbelievable," Kay Kennedy said. "I'm really overwhelmed at this point in time. Knowing that he's safe is my biggest concern."
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According to his mother, Kennedy was arrested with five other foreign fighters. While his visa was not expired, a number of visas belonging to people in his group were.
Kay Kennedy said Michael Kennedy voluntarily entered custody in order to stay with the group.
"Michael would not let them go to prison without him," she told CBC News. "He said there was no way he was letting them end up in prison and abandon them."
"He was given the option not to be taken into custody, but he refused it," she said.
'Big celebration' for Christmas
Kay Kennedy told CBC News on Monday that it was a huge relief to learn her son had been released from custody.
She said the call on Monday afternoon was emotional, but the veteran told his mother he was in good spirits and was healthy.
The pair chatted about his family and family pets who are in Newfoundland and Labrador.
It's unbelievable how much he appreciates our Canadian government- Kay Kennedy
The details aren't worked out yet, but her son, who is still in northern Iraq, will be home for Christmas, she said.
Though the other fighters have yet to be released, Kay Kennedy says their governments — Germany and the United States — have begun to work on the file.
She said Christmas at her home will be a "big celebration, for sure."
"It's unbelievable how much he appreciates our Canadian government, and our country of Canada," she added. Kay Kennedy thanked Public Services and procurement Minister Judy Foote and Global Affairs Canada for their help.
With files from Geoff Bartlett and Ariana Kelland