Syrian aide to Bashar al-Assad defends her relationship with Barbara Walters

She pointed out that nothing had come of the offers made by Walters and said
she was unaware that Walters had emailed a Columbia professor on her behalf.
She said she did not know why Walters now regretted the offer of help.

In the emails Miss Jaafari referred to Walters as her “adopted mother”.
In return, Walters called her “dear girl” and sometimes signed off “Hugs,

Miss Jaafari is understood to have worked for four months as an unpaid intern
at the Syrian Mission to the United Nations.

She became a close adviser to Mr Assad and was at his side as Syrian troops
stepped up their campaign of killing and repression that has left over
13,500 people dead since March 2011.

She would speak to him several times a day, sometimes calling him “the
Dude” in her adopted American accent, and was sometimes the only
official in the room when he did interviews with Western journalists.

Miss Jaafari exchanged emails with Walters over a proposed interview with Mr
Assad late last year. She arranged the interview which took place in
December last year.

After the high profile interview, Miss Jaafari and Walters kept in touch. They
met for lunch at the Mark Hotel on Manhattan’s Upper East Side in late

Shortly afterwards, Walters emailed the young Syrian saying: “I wrote to
Piers Morgan and his producer to say how terrific you are and attached your
résumé.” She also asked whether Miss Jaafari was still
planning on applying to Columbia University and offered to help.

A week later, Walters emailed Richard Wald, a professor at the Columbia School
of Journalism and the father of Jonathan Wald, Morgan’s executive producer.

Walters described Miss Jaafari as “brilliant, beautiful, [and] speaks
five languages” and asked whether there was “anything you can do
to help?”.

Prof Wald replied that he would get the admissions office to “give her
special attention”.

Miss Jaafari did not ultimately get the internship nor the university place.

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