Now Reading
Dorothy Parvaz, UA journalism grad held in Iran, freed

From the archive: This story is more than 10 years old.

Dorothy Parvaz, UA journalism grad held in Iran, freed

'Terrifying experience'

  • Parvaz, center, celebrates her release after arriving in Qatar on Wednesday.
    NazQatar/TwitpicParvaz, center, celebrates her release after arriving in Qatar on Wednesday.
  • Parvaz's Iranian passport, posted by on May 2.
    seattlepi.comParvaz's Iranian passport, posted by on May 2.
  • Parvaz.
    Joshua Trujillo/

Journalist Dorothy Parvaz, who had been held in Iran after being detained in Syria, was freed and flew to Qatar on Wednesday.

Parvaz, in what she called a "terrifying experience," was held for 19 days after entering Syria to report on the unrest in that country.

"I was in the Syrian detention center 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," she told her employer, Al Jazeera English, in an interview Wednesday.

"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.

"They treated me with respect" in Iran, she said. "All of my questions were answered as much as they could be."

Parvaz's employer, Al Jazeera English, confirmed her release earlier in the day.

"Dorothy Parvaz has been released and is safe and well and back with us in Doha," a spokesman for the news agency said.

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

Her brother, Dan Parvaz, thanked the efforts of those who organized on Facebook to press for her release: "Finally, my sister is free. And while I'm grateful to the Iranian government for her treatment and release. I'm more grateful to all of you. particularly to the close friends and colleagues who maintained this page. You kept the faith, made phone calls, wrote letters, rallied, watched the media (some of you *were* the media)... and never lost hope."

Parvaz's case inspired a #FreeDorothy campaign on Twitter and a Free Dorothy Parvaz page on Facebook.

Parvaz, a U.S., Canadian and Iranian citizen, received a master's degree from the University of Arizona in 1997.

Before working for Al Jazeera, she reported for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, the Seattle Times, the Arizona Republic and Asahi Evening News in Japan.

A May 10 statement from the Syrian Embassy in Washington, D.C., said that Parvaz had been turned over to Iran after attempting to enter Syria on an expired Iranian passport.

As a U.S. citizen, Parvaz was likely using her Iranian passport while traveling to Syria, her father told when she was detained. She also holds a Canadian passport, he said.

An image of her passport, released in early May, showed an expiration date of June 2, 2011.

— 30 —

Top headlines

Best in Internet Exploder