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US College Student Being Held in Syria

A US college student is being held in Syria. His parents say he was picked up by authorities during a demonstration in Damascus.
By Chana Ya'ar
First Publish: 3/27/2011, 3:26 PM / Last Update: 3/27/2011, 4:05 PM

courtesy of yalibnan.com

A 21-year-old U.S. college student is being held in Syria.

Tik Root has been in the country on an Arabic study program through Damascus University as part of his degree program in international politics and economics at Middlebury College.

The 21-year-old Ripton, Vermont resident disappeared March 18 during a demonstration in the Syrian capital. His father, Tom Root, told CNN the student was detained by police.

“We suspect he was picked up on the periphery,” his father said Friday after the younger Root first disappeared. He added that although his son was probably watching a demonstration that was taking place in the Old City of the capital, he would not have participated in it.

In a terse statement worded in careful diplomatic language, the U.S. State Department on Friday described the repeated stonewalling faced by American officials in response to requests for information from Syrian authorities.

But in response to an inquiry by CNN later the same day, the Syrian Embassy in Washington said in a statement it was “recently made aware of Mr. Pathik Root's situation and has been following it very closely ever since. We have been in touch with Mr. Root's parents, his state Senator, and the U.S. Embassy in Syria. This is an unfortunate incident that we hope will be resolved as soon as possible.”

By Saturday morning, the mystery was resolved, albeit not the incident.

"We received some great news this morning from the Syrian Embassy and officials from Damascus, conveyed to me by Senator [Patric] Leahy and others," wrote the elder Root. "Tik has been located, and we understand that he is safe and well. He remains in the hands of the Syrian authorities, who are currently responsible for him. 

"We very much appreciate the efforts of [Syrian] Ambassador [to the U.S.] Imad Moustapha and Senator Leahy in continuing to work to bring this complex situation to a resolution... Please know how much we value everyone's good wishes and hopes."