The mystery surrounding missing Canadian journalist Dorothy Parvaz has deepened with Syria’s revelation that it deported her to Iran several days ago.
Ms. Parvaz’s family and colleagues at the al-Jazeera news newtwork haven’t heard from her since April 29, when she boarded a flight from Qatar to Damascus to cover pro-democracy protests in Syria.
A triple citizen of Iran, Canada and the United States, the 39-year-old journalist planned to use her Iranian passport to enter Syria because it didn’t require a visa.
In a statement, the Syrian embassy in Washington said Ms. Parvaz “attempted to illegally enter” the country using an expired Iranian passport and on false claims that she was a tourist.
Syria said it extradited her on May 1 “in accordance with international law to the passport-issuing country.” The Iranian consul, it added, escorted her to Caspian Airlines Flight 7905 bound for Tehran.
Al-Jazeera reported that Iran’s Foreign Minister, Ali Akbar Salehi, told the network on May 2 that he had no knowledge of the reporter’s whereabouts and urged Syria to look into the case.
The news of her deportation, made public on Wednesday, has left Ms. Parvaz’s family confused, her fiancé, Todd Barker, said.
“It’s been since the end of April since we’ve heard from her and that’s what we know,” he said. “I mean, we don’t really know where she is at this point and her family and me are just desperate to speak to her and hear that she’s safe.”
While Mr. Barker said he is trying to focus on lobbying for her release, he acknowledged that there are times when he is beset by deep worry.
“It certainly creeps in and it keeps me up at night but it’s all just speculation and all that’s caused by the fact that we haven’t heard from her,” he said.
Canadian officials are trying to gather more information about the case, spokesman Alain Cacchione said.
“We are very concerned about this individual and are pressing for information about her whereabouts,” he said in an e-mail. “Canadian officials are engaging Iranian and Syrian authorities at high levels to obtain additional information. We also are seeking to provide consular assistance as required.”
U.S. officials are also concerned about Ms. Parvaz’s well-being and are working to get more details, spokesman Mark Toner said Wednesday.
Al-Jazeera called on Iranian authorities to immediately release Ms. Parvaz, saying in a statement that the network is “deeply concerned for her welfare.” She began working at al-Jazeera last year, primarily as a feature writer for its website.
Ms. Parvaz is among several Iranian-Canadian journalists who have been detained by Iranian authorities.
Maziar Bahari, an Iranian-Canadian journalist working for Newsweek, was held in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison for 118 days before he was released on bail in 2009 after pleas from his pregnant wife.
Iranian-Canadian photojournalist Zahra Kazemi was beaten and killed while being held in Evin prison after she was arrested for photographing relatives of detainees outside the jail in 2003.
Ms. Parvaz was born in Iran and lived there with her grandmother through the 1979 Iranian Revolution. She subsequently moved to the United Arab Emirates to live with her father, her stepmother and her sister.
When she was 12, the family moved to British Columbia, where she attended high school and earned an undergraduate degree in English literature at the University of British Columbia, before completing a master’s in journalism at the University of Arizona.
Ms. Parvaz won a prestigious Nieman Fellowship in 2009, spending a year at Harvard University before moving to Britain, where she earned another fellowship at Cambridge, where she focused on the media and Iran.