Middle East
Al Jazeera journalist released from detention
Dorothy Parvaz, who disappeared on assignment in Syria 19 days ago, was sent back to Doha by Iranian authorities.
Last Modified: 18 May 2011 05:49

Parvaz describes her "terrifying" experiences while detained in Syria.

Al Jazeera has confirmed the release of its journalist, Dorothy Parvaz, who was detained in Syria upon her arrival in Damascus while on an assignment, and then deported to Iran.

Parvaz landed in Doha, Qatar on May 18 on a flight from Iran. 

An Al Jazeera spokesman said: "I'm delighted to let you know that Dorothy Parvaz has been released and is safe and well and back with us in Doha.  She has been in contact with her family, and we are with her now to find out more about her ordeal over the last 19 days."

Her fiancé Todd Barker, posted on Facebook: "She is safe in Doha and will be coming to Vancouver BC soon. We can't wait to see her."

Barker, who is planning to marry Parvaz this summer, was with her family when he heard the news.

He thanked US and Canadian officials, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), the international Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and all of those who had rallied in support of his fiancé.

Barker said he was grateful to Al Jazeera for the network's efforts to obtain Parvaz's release.

"It's been a pleasure working with them, as much as it can be," he said. "They were working like nobodies' business on it and we're just ecstatic."

'Terrifying experience'

Parvaz was detained as soon as she had landed in Damascus on April 29 to cover the unrest sweeping the country. Syrian authorities then deported her to Iran on May 1.

"I was handcuffed repeatedly, blindfolded, taken to a courtyard and just left to hear these men being beaten ... it was an overall terrifying experience"

- Dorothy Parvaz, on her captivity in Syria.

On her return, Parvaz said she had a "terrifying experience" while being held in Syria.

"I was in the Syrian detention centre for three days and what I heard were just savage beatings. I didn't know what these men had done, one agent said that two of them were responsible for murders in or near Deraa.

"I was handcuffed repeatedly, blindfolded, taken to a courtyard and just left to hear these men being beaten.They all sounded very young, they all sounded to be in their late teens or early twenties. So it was an overall terrifying experience," she said.

She, however, was treated well in Iran.

"Actually all told, it was relatively fair. The people there [Iran] treated me with respect. I had a clean room, I had a physical check-up with the doctor as soon as I showed up. All of my questions were answered as much as they could be.

"The women who looked after me at the women’s detention centre were extraordinarily kind, twice a day I was taken out for fresh air. I’m a vegetarian, that diet was adhered to, any medication I needed."

Dorothy is an experienced journalist who joined Al Jazeera in 2010.

She graduated from the University of British Columbia, completed a masters degree in Arizona, and held journalism fellowships at both Harvard and Cambridge. She previously worked as a columnist and feature writer for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

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