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President Joe Biden demanded on Wednesday that Syria release journalist Austin Tice, who disappeared a decade ago while covering the country’s bitter civil war.
No one has ever claimed responsibility for his kidnapping and the Syrian government has not admitted to holding the 40-year-old.
On the tenth anniversary of his disappearance and the day before his birthday, Biden said he knew the government of Bashar al-Assad was holding Tice.
“He’s a son, he’s a brother, and he’s an investigative journalist who put the truth above himself and traveled to Syria to show the world the real costs of war,” the president said.
“We know for certain that he was detained by the Syrian regime.
“We have repeatedly asked the government of Syria to work with us so that we can bring Austin home.
“On the tenth anniversary of his kidnapping, I call on Syria to end this and help us bring him home.”
President Joe Biden accused Syria of detaining missing journalist Austin Tice. He was last seen 10 years ago after being kidnapped while covering the country’s civil war
Tice worked for CBS News, The Washington Post and McClatchy . among others
Austin Tice’s mom Debra said she never doubted her determination to bring her son home. She and her husband met Biden in May
Tice, a freelance journalist for several news organizations including CBS News, The Washington Post and McClatchy, went missing at a checkpoint in a disputed area west of the capital Damascus.
A video released by Assad supporters later showed him blindfolded and distressed, surrounded by kidnappers.
He was heard to say, “Oh, Jesus.”
Nothing more of him has been seen since then.
However, officials have repeatedly suggested that they believe he is still alive.
Four years ago, US envoy to Syria, James Jeffrey, said he believed Tice was being held hostage, but offered no further information.
Two years ago, Trump administration officials traveled to Syria to secure his release, but returned empty-handed. Officials in Damascus reportedly said detainees could not be negotiated while US troops were in the country.
And in May, Lebanese security officials met officials from the Biden administration in Washington as part of an effort to free Tice.
During the ups and downs, the missing journalist’s parents campaigned to bring him home.
‘I never doubted. I don’t falter now,” his mother told Debra CBS News in an interview earlier this week.
“There’s no reason not to believe he’s waiting and hoping and dreaming and planning to run free.”
Tice is from Houston, Texas, and traveled to Syria to report on the brutal conflict that erupted in 2011 during the Arab Spring
Tice is from Houston, Texas, and traveled to Syria to report on the brutal conflict that erupted in 2011 during the Arab Spring.
In May, Biden met with Tice’s parents and promised that he would use all available resources to secure “Austin’s long-awaited return to his family.”
On Wednesday, the president reiterated his promise.
“The Tice family deserves answers, and most importantly, they deserve to be reunited with Austin soon,” he said.
“We stand behind Austin’s many loved ones and we will not rest until we bring Austin home.
“Ten years is way, way too long. That also applies to every extra day.’
Secretary of State Antony Blinken demanded that Damascus recognize his role.
We continue to demand that Syrian officials fulfill their obligations under the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations to recognize the detention of Austin and all other US citizens in Syria, a responsibility under international law and an important step in securing their release.” he said.