Syria denies it’s holding American journalist Austin Tice

Damascus, Syria — Syria denied on Wednesday it’s holding U.S. journalist Austin Tice or different Individuals after President Biden accused the Syrian authorities of detaining him.

The Syrian Overseas Ministry stated in a press release that Damascus “denies it had kidnapped or is holding any American citizen on its territories.”

“The U.S. issued final week deceptive and illogical statements by the American president and secretary of state that included baseless accusations in opposition to Syria that it had kidnapped or detained Americans together with former U.S. Marine Austin Tice,” the assertion stated.

Mr. Biden’s feedback final week got here in a press release launched by the White Home to mark the tenth anniversary of Tice’s abduction, which passed off when he was in Syria protecting its prolonged battle. Biden’s remarks had been the clearest indication up to now that the U.S. is for certain Tice is being held by the federal government of President Bashar Assad.

“We all know with certainty that he has been held by the Authorities of Syria,” Mr. Biden stated in his assertion final week. “Now we have repeatedly requested the federal government of Syria to work with us in order that we are able to deliver Austin dwelling.”

State Division Spokesman Ned Value instructed reporters on Tuesday that the U.S. authorities has pushed Syria to return each American. On Tice’s case particularly, he stated, the Biden administration has “engaged extensively — and that features immediately — with Syrian officers and thru third events.”

“Syria has by no means acknowledged holding him,” Value stated of Tice, including that “we aren’t going to be deterred in our efforts. We’re going to pursue each avenue for securing Austin’s secure return.”

The Syrian Overseas Ministry denied in its assertion having any secret contacts with U.S. officers on the lacking Individuals, including that “any official dialogue with the American authorities will solely be public based mostly on the respect of Syria’s sovereignty.”

In Could, prime Lebanese safety official Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim met with U.S. officers in Washington as a part of mediation efforts between the U.S. and Syria for Tice’s launch. Ibrahim, the chief of Lebanon’s Common Safety Directorate, has mediated sophisticated hostage releases up to now.

In Could, Mr. Biden met Tice’s dad and mom and reiterated his dedication to working towards “Austin’s lengthy overdue return to his household.”

Debra Tice, Austin’s mom, instructed CBS Information final week that “there is not any motive to not imagine that he is ready and hoping and dreaming and planning to stroll free.”

“America authorities has labored very exhausting to persuade me that they are engaged on it,” she stated. “My response is: Do not inform me. Present me.” 

Within the ultimate months of the Trump administration, two U.S. officers — together with the federal government’s prime hostage negotiator, Roger Carstens, a former Military Particular Forces officer — made a secret go to to Damascus to hunt info on Tice and different Individuals who’ve disappeared in Syria. It was the highest-level talks in years between the U.S. and Assad’s authorities, although Syrian officers supplied no significant info on Tice.

Tice went lacking shortly after his thirty first birthday on Aug. 14, 2012, at a checkpoint in a contested space west of the capital of Damascus. A video launched a month later confirmed him blindfolded and held by armed males, saying, “Oh, Jesus.” He has not been heard from since.

Tice is certainly one of two Individuals who went lacking in Syria. The opposite is Majd Kamalmaz, a psychologist from Virginia, who vanished in Syria in 2017.

Tice is from Houston and his work had been revealed by The Washington Publish, McClatchy newspapers and different retailers. He went to Syria to cowl the battle that began in 2011. The warfare has left tons of of hundreds useless and displaced almost half of the pre-conflict inhabitants of 23 million. Greater than 5 million of these are outdoors the nation.

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