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Family Of Detained Journalist Awaits News

Derek Wang

It's been one week since journalist Dorothy Parvaz was arrested in Syria. The former Seattle Post Intelligencer columnist and KUOW commentator now works for Al–Jazeera. She planned to report on the ongoing turmoil in Syria before being detained. Meanwhile, her friends and family are awaiting news.


Before Dorothy Parvaz left for Syria, she had one conversation with her fiance, Todd Barker, about the potential dangers. Barker says he expressed his worries about the assignment but knew he wouldn't be able to talk his fiance out of going.

Barker: "She is a dedicated journalist and she's committed like all journalists to the principle that reporting the truth is a force for justice. And I knew where the conversation was going to go, but that didn't stop me from voicing the concerns."

Barker says Parvaz had no specific assignment.

Syria has banned most journalists. Parvaz used her Iranian passport to enter Syria. Iranian passport holders do not need visas.

Barker and others are working around the clock in hopes of getting Parvaz released. They're talking with both of Washington's US senators and other officials.

In the meantime, friends of Parvaz have set up a Facebook page calling for her release. Already, it has more than 7,000 followers who are sharing their thoughts. Barker says it's helped him get through this difficult time.

Barker: "It just means an absolute ton, and it keeps me going. And people care and people are interested in her situation, and that's just a tremendous amount of support."

Barker lives in Luxembourg, but he's now in British Columbia, so he can be with Parvaz's father as they wait for news. He says he has only one thought right now.

Barker: "I want to talk to Dorothy. That's the only thing that's going through my head right now, is I want to talk to Dorothy more than anything else right now."

Reporter: "What would you say to her, if you could talk to her?"

Barker: [pauses] "I would, I would, I would tell her that I love her. Period."

Barker and Parvaz have planned to get married this year. The two live in different countries and Barker says that's complicated any wedding plans. Although no specific date has been set, Barker says Parvaz's detention has accelerated his plans. He says when he gets his fiance back, he doesn't want to be apart.

I'm Derek Wang, KUOW News.

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