Cambridge-trained Al Jazeera journalist missing in Syria

Al Jazeera journalist Dorothy Parvaz, 39, has been missing in Syria since last Friday.

The journalist and former Press Fellow of Wolfson College Cambridge was supposed to arrive in Damascus on Friday afternoon, but no one has heard from her for days.

President at Wolfson College Richard J. Evans 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 [she was] 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.”

Al Jazeera is now urging the Syrian government to help find her: ‘We are concerned for Dorothy’s safety and well-being,’an Al Jazeera spokesman said. ‘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.”

Mohamed Abdel Dayem from the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) told Al Jazeera that up to two dozen journalists have been detained in Syria since March of this year.

He said: “Dorothy’s detention is really just the latest episode in an effort by the Syrian government to institute a media blackout…It seems as if the government now considers the journalists as much of a problem as the actual social unrest.”

Syria has imposed severe restrictions on journalists seeking to cover anti-government protests since mid-March.

Reporters Without Borders has called for the withdrawal of charges made against several arrested journalists in Syria, among them Fayez Sara, who was arrested on 11 April in Damascus, and blogger Kamal Hussein Sheikhou, arrested during a demonstration outside the interior ministry on 15 March.

‘They should be freed unconditionally at once’a spokesperson said.

A Free Dorothy Parvaz Facebook page has been set up.

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