After Parvaz’s nearly 2 weeks in Syrian detention, McDermott says: ‘We’re working on it’

 Seattle Congressman Jim McDermott on Tuesday night sought to provide some assurance to worried friends and family of journalist D. Parvaz, who nearly two weeks ago arrived by plane in Damascus, Syria, and never was heard from again. Syria has admitted she was detained by the government.

  McDermott said he talked with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Tuesday about the need to press Syria to release Dorothy Parvaz, the former Seattle P-I journalist who now works for Al Jazeera English.

  “I talked with Mrs. Clinton this afternoon… We are pressing hard on the Syrians to acknowledge she is there and release her. She is not forgotten,” McDermott said during a telephone Town Hall event he held Tuesday night.

  He was responding to a query by a caller named Melanie, a Parvaz friend who had asked McDermott: What are you doing on the case? She noted that the offices of Senators Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray had taken action, but friends and family had yet to hear what McDermott was doing to urge the dictatorial Syrian government to release Parvaz.

  McDermott responded that he had talked with the two senators and learned they had made contacts through diplomatic circles, “trying to resolve this is a diplomatic matter. We are following it,” he said.

  He said he has been involved in a number of cases of people detained in other countries, including one currently in Iran.

  “Quiet diplomacy is often the most effective way to do it,” McDermott said.

  “Rest assured, we are working on it. There’s no question about it.”

  It’s been a tense 12 days for Parvaz’s loved ones and a broad circle of friends far and wide who have “liked” the Free Dorothy Parvaz Facebook page, which on Tuesday surpassed 11,000 fans. Syria is holding in custody at least five journalists, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists, and on May 4 acknowledged it had detained Parvaz.  Friends and family discount newly arisen claims by a pro-regime newspaper that Parvaz left Syria May 1 “after authorities denied her entry, because she carried a tourist visa while her equipment indicated that she wished to engage in journalistic work, a matter that requires different procedures.” Still perched in the top right-hand corner of Al Jazeera English’s home page are these words:

  “Free our journalist. Al Jazeera’s Dorothy Parvaz has been held captive in Syria since April 29. We want her back. Now.”

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