Austin Tice: Syria denies holding journalist after White House claims in any other case

Syria’s international ministry mentioned in a uncommon assertion that the nation “denies that it has kidnapped or is hiding any American citizens who entered its territory or resided in areas under the sovereignty and authority of the Syrian government.”

The feedback come every week after US President Joe Biden mentioned that Washington is aware of “with certainty” that Tice is being held by the Syrian authorities.

The Syrian authorities has denied on a number of events that it is holding Tice, however earlier than its assertion Wednesday, it had not addressed the journalist’s whereabouts publicly since 2016.

Tice disappeared in Damascus, the Syrian capital, whereas he was working as a contract journalist for CBS, The Washington Publish and The McClatchy Firm.

Tice’s household mentioned Austin was touring within the Damascus suburb of Darayya to work on one in all his remaining items for the summer time on August 13, 2012, when he was detained at a checkpoint. He was supposed to go away for Lebanon the next day. The Texas native and veteran of the US Marine Corps was supposed to come back house to complete his remaining yr of regulation faculty at Georgetown College.

Since then, the one data Tice’s household has obtained from his captors was a 43-second video that surfaced 5 weeks after his disappearance. It was titled “Austin Tice is Alive” and confirmed Tice and a bunch of armed males, however contained no different data.

In its assertion Wednesday, the Syrian authorities denied it had ever arrested Tice.

tenth anniversary of disappearance

Tice was among the many first journalists to vanish after Syria’s peaceable pro-democracy protests, sparked by the Arab Spring, have been violently crushed by Bashar al-Assad’s authorities.

Successive US administrations have contended that Tice was alive and being held captive someplace in Syria. There was no indication he was kidnapped or held by ISIS, which executed a number of American journalists it kidnapped, together with James Foley and Steven Sotloff.

Although the FBI provided a reward of $1 million for data on Tice’s whereabouts, his case has languished for years.

Tice’s mother and father have labored diligently to convey authorities and media consideration to their son’s disappearance. Throughout a gathering with Biden on the White House in Could, the President “reiterated his commitment to continue to work through all available avenues to secure Austin’s long overdue return to his family.”

The Biden administration has had direct engagements with the Syrian authorities in an effort to safe the discharge of Tice, in line with a supply and a senior administration official. There have been numerous direct interactions — none of which occurred in Damascus — however they’ve up to now yielded no progress, the supply acquainted mentioned.

Final week marked the tenth anniversary of Tice’s disappearance, which his household and the White House used to reiterate their calls for for data.

“We know with certainty that he has been held by the Syrian regime,” Biden mentioned in an announcement final week. “We have repeatedly asked the government of Syria to work with us so that we can bring Austin home.

“Tice household deserves solutions, and extra importantly, they need to be swiftly reunited with Austin.”

Debra Tice, Austin’s mother, told CNN on Thursday, her son’s 41st birthday, she is happy the President mentioned his name and that it is a sign the administration is ready to negotiate his release.

“I am simply so glad that President Biden has mentioned Austin’s title publicly,” Debra Tice told CNN’s John Berman on “New Day.” “I feel that it is a sign from the President that america authorities is able to have interaction with Syria to convey Austin house.”

In a separate statement Wednesday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Washington “will proceed to pursue all out there avenues to convey Austin house and work tirelessly till we achieve doing so.”

Among those tasked with bringing Tice home is Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs Roger Carstens, who secretly traveled to Damascus and met with Assad regime officials in 2020 under the Trump administration. In May of this year, he met with Abbas Ibrahim, a top Lebanese security official, in Washington “to debate US residents who’re lacking or detained in Syria,” State Division spokesman Ned Value mentioned on the time.

Ibrahim, the chief of Lebanon’s Common Safety Directorate, has performed a job in securing the discharge of American detainees previously, together with Sam Goodwin from Syria and Nizar Zikka from Iran.