Iran presses Syria over missing journalist

Foreign minister “demands” Syrian government look into case of missing Al Jazeera English journalist Dorothy Parvaz.

Dorothy at Iran v Iraq Asian Cup 2011 football match

Iran’s foreign minister wants the Syrian government to look into the case of an Al Jazeera journalist who has been missing in Syria since Friday afternoon.

Dorothy Parvaz left the Qatari capital, Doha, for Syria to cover events in the country, but there has been no contact with the 39-year-old since she disembarked from a Qatar Airways flight in Damascus.

Statement released by Dorothy Parvaz’s family:

Dorothy Parvaz is a dearly loved daughter, sister and fiancée. We haven’t heard from her in four days and believe that she is being held by the Syrian government. Dorothy is a global citizen – she grew up in Iran, UAE, Canada and the United States, where she became a determined journalist.

She is dedicated to the profession as a force for peace and justice in the world. She has worked at newspapers across the globe, from Japan to Arizona, from Seattle, Washington, to Doha, Qatar, where she now works for Al Jazeera English online.

She has always known who she was, whether buying groceries for her grandmother in Tehran or covering the aftermath of the tsunami in Japan. She is tough and she is a fighter – no doubt, she is stronger than us. We need to know where she is. We need to know who is holding her, and that she is comfortable. She is very loved. We need to know that she is safe.

Parvaz is an American, Canadian and Iranian citizen.

Ali Akbar Salehi, the Iranian foreign minister, said at a news conference in Doha on Monday that Iran wanted the Syrians to look into the matter.

“I hope that it is not true, but if that is the case, then we demand the government of Syria to look into this,” Salehi said in response to a question on what Iran would undertake to secure Parvaz’s release.

Parvaz  joined Al Jazeera in 2010 and recently reported on the Japanese earthquake and tsunami for the network.

She graduated from the University of British Columbia, obtained a masters from Arizona University, and held journalism fellowships at both Harvard and Cambridge, UK.

She previously worked as a columnist and feature writer for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer newspaper in the US.

Richard Evans, the president of Wolfson College in Cambridge, called on the Syrian authorities to guarantee Parvaz’s safety.

“It is with great concern that we learn that Dorothy Parvaz, […] a former Press Fellow of Wolfson College, has gone missing in Syria and is currently unaccounted for. […] we are anxious about her safety and well-being,” he said..

“Dorothy is a courageous and principled journalist whose lifelong ambition has been to report on events in the Middle East. […] she impressed us with her talent and her commitment to the best traditions of professional journalism and became a popular and valued member of our academic community. 

“We call on the Syrian authorities to respect press freedom, to guarantee Dorothy’s safety and to enable her to discharge the duties for which she has trained so assiduously,” Evans wrote.

An Al Jazeera spokesman said: “We are concerned for Dorothy’s safety and well-being. We are requesting full co-operation from the Syrian authorities to determine how she was processed at the airport and what her current location is. We want her returned to us immediately.”

Source: Al Jazeera

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