Note: Find all of Tik Root’s aggregated coverage from MiddBlog and elsewhere on our special coverage page.
Note: As always, any opinions expressed by MiddBlog are our own; we should not be considered representatives of Middlebury College or any other organization.
In the previous post (which we are keeping at the top of the page to reflect the importance of unfolding events), we described recent coverage of Pahtik Root’s (’12) disappearance while studying abroad in Syria.
Not only is Root missing; his blog, Mideast Reports: News from the Front Lines, was also made private sometime between his disappearance in mid-March and yesterday afternoon.
Tik was using the site to send out information, updates, photos and interviews on the unrest in the Middle East. When we checked yesterday, the blog was inaccessible and we were confronted with the following alert:
The notification says Root restricted access to the blog. However, if he is being held by Syrian authorities (which the College, quoting the State Department, says is “almost certainly” true), the choice may not have been entirely up to him. He gave no prior indication that the blog would go private.
If any of these pages becomes active again, please let us know.
The OpenNet Initiative, a think tank that analyzes internet surveillance practices around the world, calls Syria’s telecom network “the most regulated in the Middle East.” The Committee to Protect Journalists ranks Syria #3 in its list of “worst countries to be a blogger,” behind Burma and Iran.
Although Root himself has not posted on his Facebook page, friends have begun to flood his wall with kind words and expressions of hope for his safe return. We want to express the same.
UPDATE 3/26: Andrew Leber of Brown University writes in to help explain why Tik’s Mideast Reports blog has been shut down…
My name is Andrew Leber, and I studied abroad with Tik Root this past fall in Alexandria. I am responding to your post about Tik’s online presence. I have helped Tik with translations and articles for the blog in the past, as has Otis Pitney, another Middlebury student. After we learned of Tik’s disappearance, Otis blocked all access to the blog, and I later concurred. We had no idea what information the Syrian authorities might be able to access, and we did not want the contents of the blog to be used against Tik. It is our intention to return the blog to full operation once we know more about his whereabouts.
I apologize if our measures resulted in any undue alarm – we searched for a way to block access to most of the blog without deleting content, but in the end felt it was better to leave the site completely shuttered for now.