Syria releases local student

MIDDLEBURY - It was no April Fool's joke, and it proved to be very good news for a Ripton family and the Middlebury College community. College officials received word April 1 that junior student Pathik "Tik" Root, 21, of Ripton, who had been detained by authorities while studying in Syria this spring, was released from custody.

Root had studied in Egypt earlier this year and resumed his foreign studies in Syria. He had been reported missing March 16. His father, a professor at the college, later reported that his son was being detained in Syria.

The student's amateur video footage of this year's Egyptian uprising had been broadcast around the world on CNN-TV.

Emergency law inSyria had been suspended which cast a doubt over the whereabouts of Root last month.

Middlebury College President Ron Liebowitz released a statement to the public April 1 about the student's ultimate release:

"I want to express how very happy the Middlebury College community is that Tik Root, '12, has been released to the U.S. Embassy in Damascus. Faculty, staff, and students have anxiously awaited news about Tik's status throughout the two-week period when he was first missing and then in Syrian custody.

"We are thrilled for his parents, Tom Root and Andi Lloyd, and their family now that they will be reunited, and we all look forward to seeing Tik when he returns to Vermont.

"The college has received a great deal of support in its efforts to assist the family in obtaining Tik's release, and we are enormously grateful.

"I want to thank all three members of the Vermont Congressional delegation: Rep. Peter Welch, Sen. Bernie Sanders, and Sen. Patrick Leahy. We are particularly appreciative of Sen. Leahy's many efforts, including a statement he made yesterday calling for Tik's release.

"The college would also like to acknowledge all the work of the U.S. Embassy in Damascus and the Syrian Embassy in Washington, D.C., especially Syrian Ambassador Imad Moustapha. We are indebted to many friends of the College who provided support and advice as well," Liebowitz said in the statement.

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