Middlebury student found in Syria

MIDDLEBURY- A Middlebury College student who had been reported missing in rebellion-torn Syria was found in the custody of Syrian authorities over the weekend, his father reported.

Pathik "Tik" Root, 21, of Ripton, was last heard from March 16.

The Middlebury junior was studying Arabic overseas. He had been involved with anti-government protests in Egypt during the anti-Mubaric uprisings earlier this year.

Root resumed his studies in Damascus, Syria's second largest city and a hub of the anti-government protests there.

Several of Root's Middle East photographs appeared in a recent issue of the Middlebury campus magazine; the images accompanied a news article about the Middlebury College students who were evacuated fromAlexandria, Egypt.

Root's video footage of the 2011 Egypt uprisings appeared internationally on CNN-TV in January.Being visible in the news media, he may have been pegged as an anti-government sympathizer in Syria.

College officials released a statement about the missing student: "Everyone at the college is anxious to hear that Tik is safe, and we look forward to receiving word when his family hears more about his status."

In an e-mail to the campus community, college President Ronald Liebowitz wrote that "the college is doing everything it can to assist in the effort to locate Tik." He noted that he had offered his support to Root's parents and promised to keep the campus updated if circumstances changed.

According to Root family members, a U.S. State Department official said Root is most likely being held by Syrian authorities. That turned out to be the case, and family members were working closely with the Syrian embassy in Washington to expedite his release.

Prior to the news that Pathik was being held by Syrian authorities, Andi Lloyd and Tom Root, the student's parents, released their public comments through Middlebury College: "We are very grateful for everyone's concern and thoughts, but our energy at this time is fully committed to bringing our son home. We will therefore not be able to do any interviews at this time."

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