Syria confirms journalist detained

Al Jazeera calls for immediate release of journalist Dorothy Parvaz, held since arriving in Damascus on Friday.

    Dorothy Parvaz was detained on arrival in Syria six days ago. [Photo courtesy of Seattlepi.com]

    Al Jazeera English has called for the immediate release of one of its journalists after Syrian officials confirmed to the channel that they are holding her.

    Dorothy Parvaz was detained upon arrival in Damascus six days ago. She has had no contact with the outside world since.
     
    Parvaz, who holds American, Canadian and Iranian citizenship, is an experienced journalist who 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, completed a master's 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 in the US.

    Parvaz's fiance, Todd Barker, makes a statement on behalf of her family

    "We are worried about Dorothy's welfare, security and safety. Syria should release her immediately," a spokesperson for Al Jazeera said.

    Parvaz's family also called for the journalist's release.

    "While the Syrian government has confirmed that they have detained her, we demand that Dorothy is returned to her loved ones. We know that Syria will continue to treat her with the respect she deserves," the family said in a statement.

    "We know that Dorothy is staying strong. She is doing her part. Let's do ours to ensure her safe return. We need her released immediately and returned to us."

    Parvaz left Doha, Qatar, for Syria on Friday to help cover events currently taking place in the country. However, there has been no contact with the 39-year-old since she disembarked from a Qatar Airways flight in Damascus.

    Robert Mahoney, deputy director of the Committee to Protect Journalists, told Al Jazeera that foreign journalists tend to be held in better conditions and for shorter periods of time than their Syrian counterparts.

    "What the Syrian government is doing is trying to remove any witnesses to its crackdown in the country," he said from New York.

    "There is in fact an attempt by the government to impose a media blackout."

    Visit the Free Dorothy Parvaz Facebook page and use #FreeDorothy on Twitter.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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