Syria Issues First Statement on Austin Tice Since 2016

Country's foreign ministry denies 'it has kidnapped or is hiding any American'
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 17, 2022 8:47 AM CDT
Biden Said 'With Certainty' Syria Has Tice. It Pushed Back
Marc and Debra Tice, the parents of Austin Tice, who is missing in Syria, speak during a press conference, at the Press Club, in Beirut, Lebanon, Dec. 4, 2018.   (AP Photo/Bilal Hussein, File)

(Newser) – On Tuesday, the New York Times reported on the apparent "revival" of a multinational effort to bring home US journalist Austin Tice, who disappeared a decade ago in Syria. On Wednesday, Syria made clear it's not part of that effort. In what CNN reports is its first statement concerning Tice since 2016, Syria's foreign ministry "denies that it has kidnapped or is hiding any American citizens who entered its territory or resided in areas under the sovereignty and authority of the Syrian government."

Last week, President Biden said the opposite: that the US knows "with certainty" the Syrian government has Tice. The AP reports the Syrian statement directly addressed that claim, calling out "misleading and illogical statements by the American president and secretary of state that included baseless accusations against Syria that it had kidnapped or detained American citizens including former US Marine Austin Tice." Tice, then 31, vanished on Aug. 14, 2012 at a checkpoint in a contested area west of the capital of Damascus. The only proof of life to emerge came five weeks later: a 43-second video that showed Tice blindfolded and held by armed men, saying, "Oh, Jesus."

CNN reports successive US administrations have asserted that Tice is alive and continues to be held in Syria. In the Trump administration's waning days, top US hostage negotiator Roger Carstens secretly traveled to Damascus to meet with Syrian officials, who reportedly provided no useful information on Tice. Still, a rep for the US newspaper company McClatchy—Tice freelanced for it as well as CBS and the Washington Post—swung at "the decade-long inaction of three administrations" in a statement issued Monday. Majd Kamalmaz, a psychologist from Virginia who vanished in Syria in 2017, is the only other American known to have gone missing in the country.

(Read more hostage stories.)

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