The Syrian authorities on Wednesday denied it’s holding or has any data on the whereabouts of Austin Tice, an American journalist who vanished a decade in the past whereas reporting on the Center Japanese nation’s civil conflict.
Syria’s overseas ministry stated in a uncommon assertion that the nation “denies that it has kidnapped or is hiding any Americans who entered its territory or resided in areas beneath the sovereignty and authority of the Syrian authorities.”
The feedback come per week after US President Joe Biden stated 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’s 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 Submit and The McClatchy Firm.
Tice’s household stated Austin was touring within the Damascus suburb of Darayya to work on one among his last items for the summer time on August 13, 2012, when he was detained at a checkpoint. He was supposed to depart for Lebanon the next day. The Texas native and veteran of the US Marine Corps was supposed to return residence to complete his last 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.
Tice was among the many first journalists to vanish after Syria’s peaceable pro-democracy protests, sparked by the Arab Spring, had 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 carry authorities and media consideration to their son’s disappearance. Throughout a gathering with Biden on the White Home in Might, the President “reiterated his dedication to proceed to work by means of all accessible avenues to safe Austin’s lengthy overdue return to his household.”
The Biden administration has had direct engagements with the Syrian authorities in an effort to safe the discharge of Tice, in keeping with a supply and a senior administration official. There have been various direct interactions – none of which occurred in Damascus – however they’ve so far yielded no progress, the supply acquainted stated.
Final week marked the tenth anniversary of Tice’s disappearance, which his household and the White Home used to reiterate their calls for for data.
“We all know with certainty that he has been held by the Syrian regime,” Biden stated in an announcement final week. “We’ve got repeatedly requested the federal government of Syria to work with us in order that we are able to carry Austin residence.
“Tice household deserves solutions, and extra importantly, they should be swiftly reunited with Austin.”
Debra Tice, Austin’s mom, instructed CNN on Thursday, her son’s forty first birthday, she is completely satisfied the President talked about his title and that it’s a signal the administration is able to negotiate his launch.
“I’m simply so glad that President Biden has stated Austin’s title publicly,” Debra Tice instructed CNN’s John Berman on “New Day.” “I believe that it’s a sign from the President that the US authorities is able to have interaction with Syria to carry Austin residence.”
In a separate assertion Wednesday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken stated Washington “will proceed to pursue all accessible avenues to carry Austin residence and work tirelessly till we reach doing so.”
Amongst these tasked with bringing Tice house is Particular Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs Roger Carstens, who secretly traveled to Damascus and met with Assad regime officers in 2020 beneath the Trump administration. In Might of this yr, he met with Abbas Ibrahim, a high Lebanese safety official, in Washington “to debate US residents who’re lacking or detained in Syria,” State Division spokesman Ned Worth stated on the time.
Ibrahim, the chief of Lebanon’s Normal 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.