British Columbia

B.C. journalist released from Iran

Dorothy Parvaz, a B.C. journalist who was detained on her way to cover anti-government uprisings in Syria and was deported to Iran, has been freed, family members say.
Dorothy Parvaz's friends and family are relieved she's safe, weeks after being detained when she entered Syria, the CBC's Meera Bains reports 2:14

Dorothy Parvaz, a B.C. journalist who was detained on her way to cover anti-government uprisings in Syria and was deported to Iran, has been freed, family members say.

Parvaz's father, Fred, told CBC News that his daughter called his Vancouver home around 9:30 p.m. PT from the airport in Doha, Qatar, where she was clearing customs.

"It was one of the best moments of my life," he said. "I'm 68 years old and I've never had a moment like it."

Fred Parvaz said she indicated she had been treated well.

"She was in good spirits, she was in good health," he said, adding that he didn't have any more details on his daughter's release from custody.

"Finally, my sister is free," Parvaz's brother, Dan, posted on a Facebook page devoted to securing her release. That page has attracted more than 16,000 followers.

Dorothy Parvaz's fiancé, Todd Barker, said he had spoken with her as well. He said she was "absolutely exhausted," but due to return to Vancouver soon.

"She can't get to Vancouver fast enough, in my opinion," he said.

"She sounded very tired and she was very concerned about her family and me, and she was very happy I was with her dad in Vancouver, and then she seemed to start to normalize a bit," he said.

 A spokesman for her employer, the Al-Jazeera broadcaster, said "we are with her now to find out more about her ordeal over the last nineteen days."

Sent by Al-Jazeera to Syria

A correspondent for Al-Jazeera's English-language channel, Parvaz went missing after she left the broadcaster's base in Qatar on April 29 for Syria to report on the political turmoil there.

Last week, Al-Jazeera said it had been told by Syrian officials that Parvaz was sent to Iran  after she was detained in Damascus.

On Tuesday, an Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman said Parvaz had committed several passport violations  on her trip to Syria,

Ramin Mehmanparast said that the journalist had "travelled to Syria with expired Iranian passport, planned to work without a press permit and had several passports on her." At the time of his comments, Mehmanparast did not offer details on Parvaz's whereabouts.

Parvaz is Iranian-born and has Canadian, U.S. and Iranian citizenship. It's unclear what rules could be broken by travelling with multiple valid passports, but Mehmanparast reiterated that Iran does not recognize multiple nationalities for Iranians. Iranians do not need advance visas to enter Syria.

Parvaz joined Al-Jazeera in 2010. She was born in Iran and moved to Vancouver as a teenager, later graduating from the University of British Columbia. She also has a masters degree from Arizona University and held journalism fellowships at both Harvard and Cambridge universities.

She previously worked as a columnist and feature writer for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer in the United States.

with files from The Canadian Press