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September 19, 1977 |
Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.
Arwa Damon (born September 19, 1977) is an Arab-American, CNN Senior International Correspondent, based in Istanbul. From 2003, she covered the Middle East as a freelance journalist, before joining CNN in 2006.
Born in Boston, Damon spent her early childhood years in Wayland, Massachusetts. Her father, Dr. George H. Damon, Jr, is an American and her mother, Joumana, is Syrian and grew up in Damascus. Damon is the granddaughter of Muhsin al-Barazi, the former Syrian Kurd prime minister of Syria, who was executed in the August 1949 Syrian coup d'état.
At age six, Damon and her family moved to Morocco, followed by Istanbul, Turkey three years later, where her father was a teacher and middle school director at Robert College. He went from there to Isıkkent School in Izmir, and was then headmaster of the American Community School at Beirut from 2003 until his retirement in 2013.
Damon skipped sixth grade and graduated with honors from Robert College at the age of sixteen. She then spent a gap year with her aunt and uncle in Morocco, learning show jumping, before moving to the U.S. to attend Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York. She graduated with honors in 1999 with a double major in French and biology and a minor in international affairs. She is fluent in Arabic, French, Turkish, and English, having grown up speaking all four languages.
Before becoming a reporter, Damon worked for a high-end New York–based Turkish textile company.
Damon decided to become a journalist after 9/11, moving to Baghdad prior to the beginning of the Iraq War. She began her career at CameraPlanet, working to get correspondent Peter Arnett's team into pre-war Iraq. For three years, she covered the Middle East as a freelance producer working with CNN, PBS, Fox News and others, before joining CNN in February 2006.
Damon has covered many military and civil events during the invasion and occupation of Iraq. These include the United States Army's Battle of Najaf against the Mehdi Army and the battle to retake Samarra in 2004. She has also reported on the United States Marine Corps' offensive against insurgents in Fallujah and Operation Steel Curtain in Husaybah near the Syrian border.
Civil events Damon has covered include the Iraqi elections of January 2005, the constitutional referendum vote in October 2005, and the Iraqi election of December 2005. She also reported on the trial and executions of Saddam Hussein, Barzan Ibrahim Hassan al-Tikriti and Awad Hamed al-Bandar in January 2007.
Starting in December 2010, Damon covered the Arab Spring from Libya and Egypt. After the 2012 Benghazi attack, she was one of the early journalists to arrive at the scene and recovered slain Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens' personal diary.
Damon was part of the CNN team who won the 2012 Emmy Award for Outstanding Live Coverage of a Current News Story – Long Form (Revolution in Egypt: President Mubarak Steps Down). In 2014, she was awarded the Courage in Journalism Award given by the International Women's Media Foundation (IWMF).
Incident at US Embassy Party
On July 19, 2014 Damon caused a disturbance at a party at the US Embassy in Baghdad. Damon was reportedly drunk, abusive, and disorderly, and required treatment from medics to calm her down. A few days later Damon sent an apologetic email to the embassy, explaining:“I had not had proper food all day and clearly miscalculated how my body would handle the alcohol consumed. Needless to say, I am utterly mortified and take full responsibility for my actions, which are inexcusable." Two medics who treated Damon on the night of the incident subsequently sued her for damages, alleging that she had bitten both of them during the struggle.
- Heidi Mitchell (November 19, 2012). "Facing the Truth: CNN's Arwa Damon". Vogue. pp. 1–3. Retrieved 2014-06-30.
- "Special dinner held recognizing Dr. George H. Damon, Jr., retiring head of the American Community School at Beirut". American Community School, Beirut; News Post. 2013-07-15. Retrieved 2014-07-01.
- CNN Programs – Anchors/Reporters – Arwa Damon CNN.
- Gold, Hadas. "Getting There: CNN's Arwa Damon". Politico. Retrieved 2014-06-30.
- "2012 IRE Award winners". Investigative Reporters and Editors. Retrieved 2014-06-30.
- "CNN's Arwa Damon wins 2014 Courage in Journalism Award". CNN. May 16, 2014. Retrieved 2014-06-30.
- "Winners of The 33rd Annual News & Documentary Emmy Awards". The Emmy Awards. Retrieved 2014-06-30.
- Arwa Damon at the Internet Movie Database
- "Arwa Damon: 2014 Courage in Journalism Award". IWMF. Retrieved 2014-06-30.
- "CNN correspondent Arwa Damon apologizes after lawsuit claimed she bit 2 medics in drunken rage at U.S. Embassy in Baghdad". New York Daily News. August 4, 2014.