Biden says the US knows “for sure” that US journalist Austin Tice is being held by Syria

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President Joe Biden called on Syria on Wednesday to release veteran US journalist Austin Tice, saying the US government knows “for sure” that he is being held by the Syrian regime.

Tice, a US Marine veteran based in Houston, Texas, traveled to Syria in May 2012 as a freelance journalist before his final year at Georgetown University Law School. He was kidnapped at a checkpoint west of the Syrian capital, Damascus, in August 2012.

“We know for sure that the Syrian regime is holding him,” Biden said Wednesday. “We have repeatedly asked the Syrian government to work with us so that we can bring Austin home. On the 10th anniversary of his kidnapping, I am calling on Syria to end this and help us bring him home.”

In this image taken from an undated video posted on YouTube, freelance American journalist Austin Tice, who was reporting for American news organizations in Syria until his disappearance in August 2012, prays in Arabic and English while blindfolded in the presence of armed men.
(AP photo, file)

A 43-second video that surfaced online about five weeks after Tice’s arrest showed him surrounded by what his family described as an “unusual group of apparent jihadists”.

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Tice, who was blindfolded, muttered “Oh Jesus” multiple times in the video. He has not been heard from since.

“The Tice family deserves answers, and most importantly, they deserve to be quickly reunited with Austin,” Biden said on Wednesday. “We stand with their many loved ones, and we won’t rest until we bring Austin home.”

Debra Tice, mother of American journalist Austin Tice, responds after a press conference in Beirut, Lebanon.

Debra Tice, mother of American journalist Austin Tice, responds after a press conference in Beirut, Lebanon.
(Reuters / Mohamed Azakir)

Tice’s parents pushed the Biden administration to engage diplomatically with the Syrian government to secure their son’s release.

“He’s just a wonderful guy,” his mother, Debra Tice, told “Fox and Friends First” in May. “Eagle Scout, veteran, US Marines captain, graduate of the Georgetown School of Foreign Service, and his favorite thing in the whole world is being the eldest of our seven children.”

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Syria denied it was holding him, but Secretary of State Anthony Blinken demanded on Wednesday that Syria “acknowledge the detention of Austin and every other US citizen held in Syria.”

“Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs Roger Carstens will continue to engage with the Syrian government in close coordination with the White House, the Hostage Recovery Cell, and our team here at the State Department,” Blinken said.

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