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Originally published Wednesday, May 4, 2011 at 4:29 PM

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Syrian officials must free Dorothy Parvaz

Syrian officials must do more than acknowledge that they are holding Seattle journalist Dorothy Parvaz. They must release her immediately.

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SYRIAN officials must do more than admit they are holding American journalist Dorothy Parvaz. They must let her go.

Parvaz, who has worked for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, disappeared in the Syrian capital of Damascus nearly a week ago. Official acknowledgment Wednesday that she had been detained offered a strange sense of relief.

"When they tell you your daughter's in jail and you're happy, that sums it up," said Fred Parvaz. "At least someone's feeding her and there's a roof over her head."

Relief is joined by determination to secure her release. U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Washington, has been working with the State Department since Monday.

At a minimum, officials with the U.S. Embassy in Damascus must be given more information about the reporter's condition and allowed consular access to her.

Parvaz, who holds American, Canadian and Iranian citizenships, traveled to Syria on assignment for Al-Jazeera. She joined the news network in 2010 and had just finished covering the Japanese earthquake and tsunami.

The reporter's detention is part of a brutal crackdown by Syrian security forces to quell protests in the nation of 23 million. Dozens of people have been reported killed in recent weeks.

The implications for journalists attempting to cover the unrest is sobering. Al-Jazeera reporters have been allowed to stay in Syria as other reporters were expelled, but the news channel is scaling back its Syrian operations, citing harassment by security forces.

The dangers go beyond Syria; 145 journalists were jailed last year in crackdowns worldwide.

Parvaz now joins the discouraging list. Syria must free her.

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