Detained journalist reunites with family in Canada

AP News
Posted: May 19, 2011 6:17 PM
Detained journalist reunites with family in Canada

Dorothy Parvaz, the Al-Jazeera journalist detained in Syria and later Iran, was reunited with her family in Canada Thursday, two days after her released.

Parvaz was greeted with warm hugs from relatives as she arrived at Vancouver International Airport in British Columbia.

"Happy to be back and I'm anxious to be with my family," she said as reporters crowded around her.

Parvaz, 39, disappeared after arriving in Syria on April 29 to cover anti-government protests. Syria said she was deported to Iran, an important ally, shortly after her arrival.

In Syria and Iran she was held incommunicado until her release Tuesday. The first time her family heard from her since she left Qatar was on Tuesday night, when she called them from Doha, Qatar, where Al-Jazeera is headquartered, to tell them she had been released.

Parvaz, who was born in Iran and also has U.S. and Canadian citizenship, had used her Iranian passport to enter Syria because she couldn't enter with either of the others.

Parvaz wrote an account of her captivity for Al-Jazeera's website posted Wednesday, explaining that she had been taken to a Syrian detention center because she was carrying a satellite phone when she arrived at the airport in Damascus.

"Still, if that was deemed suspicious, then my American passport, complete with its Al-Jazeera sponsored visa, sealed the deal. The agents couldn't seem to agree what I was, or which was worse: an American spy for Israel, or an Al-Jazeera reporter both were pretty much on a par," she wrote.

Parvaz wrote she was interrogated for four hours, as the sounds of brutal beatings could be heard in the background.

Three days later she said he was told she was free to go back to Qatar, but instead she was she was put on a flight to Tehran. She said the Syrian authorities had told the Iranians that she was a spy _ a charge that can carry a death penalty in Iran. But after a couple of weeks of interrogations, officials identified her as a journalist and ordered her release.

She said while in Iran, she was treated with respect, courtesy and care.

At the airport, her father thanked the media for helping to publicize his daughter's situation and said his family now plans to spend some quiet time together. The family could not be reached immediately for further comment.

Parvaz apologized to reporters at the airport Thursday, saying she couldn't give interviews about her ordeal.

"I have to authorize everything through my employer," she said. "Thank you very much, I'm so sorry, I know what it's like to be on your side."