04.01.11

Leahy: On The Release Of Tik Root To American Custody

WASHINGTON (FRIDAY, April 1) -- After two anxious weeks punctuated by deft diplomacy and patience, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) announced Friday morning that Pathik “Tik” Root has been released from a Syrian jail and is at the U.S. Embassy in Damascus, and that he will soon be returning to the United States.

Leahy broke the good news first to Tik Root’s parents, Tom and Andrea.  He paid tribute to “Tom and Andi’s devotion to their son, in both words and deeds, which has deeply touched every Vermonter who has stood with them through their ordeal.”  Leahy also praised the network of Tik Root’s friends and the officials and students of Middlebury College, who mobilized on his behalf. 

Leahy was informed early Friday morning by Syria’s Ambassador to the United States, with whom he has kept a constant dialogue about Tik Root.  Leahy also had further discussions with U.S. Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford.

Leahy praised the work of Ambassador Ford “and the many State Department officials who worked around the clock for Tik Root’s release.  Ambassador Ford’s constant and effective advocacy for the release of Tik from detention was critical to his release.”  Leahy also commended “the invaluable assistance of Syria’s Ambassador to the United States, Imad Moustapha, who helped convince his government that a mistake had been made and that Tik should be allowed to return home.”  Over the last two weeks Leahy has kept in regular contact with both ambassadors and noted that “they kept me updated day and night and were always available to accept my calls.”

Tik Root’s case came at a time of domestic disturbances in Syria that also gave rise to the resignation of the entire Syrian cabinet.  Leahy said it has been “an extraordinary situation that presented difficult challenges.”  He said a key step was success in transferring his case from handling by security forces to handling by the foreign ministry.

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