Fiance Says Detained Al Jazeera Journalist Released by Iran

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- Missing journalist Dorothy Parvaz has been released by Iranian authorities and was back at her residence in Doha, Qatar, her fiance said Wednesday.

Parvaz's fiance, Todd Barker, said she called him early Wednesday from Qatar as she was clearing customs.

"I looked at my phone, saw it was her number and God, it was as unreal as the moment when I got the call that she hadn't been contacted in 24 hours," Barker told The Canadian Press.

The Iranian-born Parvaz, who also has Canadian and American citizenship, works for the Doha-based news agency Al Jazeera.

Parvaz, 39, went missing after leaving Qatar on April 29 for Damascus to cover the anti-government uprising in Syria for Al Jazeera's English-language news network. Syrian authorities said Parvaz was sent to Iran shortly after her arrival, but Iranian authorities did not say anything about her whereabouts.

Barker said Parvaz told him that she was "treated very well, she was interrogated, but she's fine."

He said Parvaz would be returning to Canada at some point, but could not say when that might be.

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

Al Jazeera confirmed Parvaz's release in an emailed statement.

The Doha-based network said she landed in the Qatari capital on Wednesday on a flight from Iran. Al Jazeera said she was not allowed any contact with the outside world while she was detained.

"She has been in contact with her family, and we are with her now to find out more about her ordeal over the last eighteen days," an Al Jazeera spokesman said.

The Associated Press could not immediately reach officials at Canada's embassy in Kuwait, which handles consular matters for Qatar.

After Parvaz went missing in Syria, a Facebook page entitled "Free Dorothy Parvaz" was created and attracted about 16,400 followers. Her brother, Dan Parvaz, announced her release in a post on the page early Wednesday.

"While I'm grateful to the Iranian government for her treatment and release, I'm more grateful to all of you." he wrote. "You kept the faith, made phone calls, wrote letters, rallied, watched the media ... and never lost hope."

Barker said he had no prior indication that Parvaz would be released and described her phone call as "out of the blue."

"When you don't hear from somebody you love for 19 days ... you don't know if they're dead, don't know if they're alive, you don't know if they're being tortured."

Iran's foreign ministry spokesman, Ramin Mehmanparast, told reporters Tuesday that Parvaz had committed "violations" by trying to enter Syria with an expired Iranian passport and "planned to work without a press permit and had several passports on her." He offered no details on what had happened to her in Iran.

In Syria, the government of President Bashar Assad has banned most outside journalists and placed strict controls on the few media outlets remaining in the country.

The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists said about 20 local and international journalists have been assaulted or detained in Syria or expelled from the country since the protests against Assad broke out in March.

Parvaz previously worked for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and obtained a master's degree from the University of Arizona.