Syrian authorities denied today that they have abducted or are holding an American journalist who disappeared a decade ago, after US President Joe Biden last week asked Damascus to release him.
Austin Tice, a former US Army Marine, was kidnapped in August 2012 at the age of 31 near Damascus where he was working as a freelance journalist to cover the uprising against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
His family believes he is alive and is still being held in Syria. The identity of Tice’s captors is unknown and no one has claimed responsibility for his abduction.
The Syrian Foreign Ministry described Tais as a member of the US military and denied that Syrian authorities are holding him or any other US citizen.
“These are baseless accusations,” he said in a statement.
In a statement on the 10th anniversary of Tice’s kidnapping, Biden said last Wednesday that his administration “has repeatedly asked the Syrian government to work with us so that we can bring Austin home.”
The US president added that Washington knows “for sure” that Tice has been detained by the Syrian government at times.
The US withdrew its diplomatic mission from Syria in 2012, after civil war broke out in the country.
US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said for his part that Special Envoy for Prisoner Affairs Roger Carstens “will continue to work with the Syrian government” in coordination with the White House.