Update: Al-Jazeera confirmed Wednesday that Syria has detained Dorothy Parvaz. The country said she is being well treatted, but al-Jazeera has started an online campaign called “#FreeDorothy.”
An al-Jazeera journalist sent to Syria to cover the ongoing protests has been missing in the country since Friday afternoon.
Dorothy Parvaz left Doha, Qatar, on a flight headed for Damascus, Syria on Friday, and al-Jazeera has had no contact with her since.
Parvaz, an American, Canadian and Iranian citizen, joined al-Jazeera in 2010, after working at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and completing a Nieman fellowship at Harvard University.
Parvaz’s fiance, Todd Barker, who is based in Luxemborg, said he usually speaks to Parvaz several times a day, but has not spoken to her since Thursday. He had been traveling in Portland on vacation when he lost contact with Parvaz.
“She attempted to enter Damascus on her Iranian passport and never checked into her hotel,” Barker said. “No information has been forthcoming.”
An al-Jazeera spokesman voiced the networks anxiety:
We are concerned for Dorothy’s safety and well-being. We are requesting full cooperation 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.
Media organizations have been restricted from reporting on the violent crackdown that security forces are believed to be inflicting on anti-government protesters and al-Jazeera closed down their Damascus bureau last month.
Up to a couple of dozen journalists have been detained in Syria since the unrest began in mid-March.
For Barker, who planned to marry Parvaz this year, he’s working to get the news out, while trying to assuage his fears. “I suspect at some level, though she didn’t show it, she was nervous about going to Syria,” he said. But “she’s very dedicated to her family and to her profession. She deeply sees journalism as a force for good, justice and peace. It’s that commitment to truth and good that would calm her nerves.”