Amnesiac 'John Smith' found in snowdrift refuses to go home

36-year-old said he would not return to the Czech Republic until he knew what had happened to him


He was found drugged and disorientated in a snowdrift in Norway in December, claiming to remember nothing of his past but sporting cuts, bruises and other signs of a kidnapping. But despite DNA analysis proving that the mystery man is Czech, he says he fears returning home until the events leading to his discovery are revealed.

While the age, nationality and identity of the man known until now as “John Smith” were confirmed on Friday, how the 36-year-old Czech ended up unconscious near an Oslo petrol station on 14 December remains unclear. Police found him ill-dressed for the freezing weather and with multiple injuries. He spoke English with a Slavic accent and could also converse in Czech, Slovak, Polish and Russian, but could reveal little else about his identity and had no idea how he ended up in Norway.

Despite appeals to Interpol, Norwegian police failed to make a breakthrough and published his photograph on Tuesday in the hope someone would recognise him. It was only a few days before a couple in the Czech Republic came forward and said he was their son, a development that “John Smith” told Norway’s TV2 broadcaster was “the best thing that could have happened”.

On Friday, Czech police said DNA tests had confirmed that he was indeed the couple’s son, but this was only part of the puzzle. “John Smith” had cuts to his wrists and ankles, indicating that he had been tied up. As well as having drugs in his system when he was found, he was also dehydrated, suggesting he may have been held without food and water.

Norwegian media reported that he had been advised not to reveal his real name, as investigations were ongoing. Police in Norway said that knowing his true identity would help them chase up leads, and in the meantime “John Smith” is staying put. He has invited his parents – whom he still does not recognise – to come to Oslo for a reunion. “I’m looking forward to speaking with them and finding out about my past,” he told Norway’s Dagbladet newspaper.

But he said he had no intention of returning home, given that his unknown assailants would probably have seen media coverage of his discovery and identification. “I fear the criminals who exposed me to this will be there waiting for me,” he added. “I will never return to the Czech Republic.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager

£23000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company has over 40 years ...

Recruitment Genius: Weekend Factory Operatives

£9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This high quality thread manufacturer is curr...

Recruitment Genius: FP&A Analyst

£40000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A market leading acquirer and m...

Recruitment Genius: Electricians

£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Fully qualified electricians re...

Day In a Page

Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific