President Joe Biden has said that the United States knows “with certainty” that an American journalist who has been missing for a decade is being held by the Syrian government and has called on leaders in Damascus to release him.
Biden made the comments in a statement on Aug. 1o marking the 10-year anniversary of journalist Austin Tice’s captivity.
Tice, who wrote for a string of news organizations including CBS News, The Washington Post, and McClatchy, and served in the Marine Corps as an infantry officer, was kidnapped near Damascus on Aug. 14, 2012, while he was reporting on the Syrian civil war.
Five weeks later, a 43-second video emerged on social media with the title, “Austin Tice is Alive.” It showed a distressed and blindfolded Tice being held by a group of unidentified armed men. No other message accompanied the video and it was the last time he was seen.
In his statement Wednesday, Biden said that Tice “is a son, he is a brother, and he is an investigative journalist who put the truth above himself and traveled to Syria to show the world the real cost of war.”
“We know with certainty that he has been held by the Government of Syria,” Biden said. “We have repeatedly asked the government of Syria to work with us so that we can bring Austin home.”
The president called on Syria’s government to help bring Tice home, stating that there is “no higher priority in my Administration than the recovery and return of Americans held hostage or wrongfully detained abroad” and that he has pledged to Tice’s parents to make his recovery and return a priority.
“The Tice family deserves answers, and more importantly, they deserve to be swiftly reunited with Austin. We stand with Austin’s many loved ones, and we will not rest until we bring Austin home. Ten years is far, far too long. So is every additional day,” Biden stated.
Tice is believed to be the longest-held American journalist in history.
No Acknowledgment From Assad
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has not confirmed his government is detaining Tice and has denied any involvement in his disappearance, while no other group has claimed responsibility for the abduction. There is no public information regarding his whereabouts.
However, Tice’s family, along with the U.S. government and other credible sources, believe that Austin is alive and that the Syrian government is best able to assist with his safe return.
The U.S. government has offered a reward of up to $1 million for information leading directly to Tice’s location, recovery, and safe return.
Tice, who turned 41 on Aug. 11, grew up in Houston and was a law student at Georgetown University when he disappeared. He had been in Syria for 83 days when he was detained at a checkpoint in the Damascus suburb of Darayya while en route to Lebanon.
During his time in office, Tice’s parents, Marc and Debra Tice, thanked President Donald Trump for his efforts to locate Tice after Trump took a special interest in the case.
In an Aug, 10 interview with CBS News, Debra Tice called on the Biden administration to do more to bring her son home, claiming that the current administration is not doing enough to work with the Syrian government to bring him back safely.
“The United States government has worked very hard to convince me that they’re working on it,” she said. “My response is: Don’t tell me. Show me.”