The US is certain that an American journalist abducted a decade ago has been held by the Syrian government. [Source: BBC NEWS]
The US is certain that an American journalist abducted a decade ago has been held by the Syrian government, President Joe Biden says.
Austin Tice, a former US Marine, was taken captive near Damascus on 14 August 2012 while covering the country’s civil war, says his family.
“We know with certainty that he has been held by the Syrian regime,” Mr Biden said.
He called on Syria to “work with us so that we can bring Austin home”.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has not confirmed his government is holding Mr Tice.
Other top Syrian officials have previously denied detaining the American.
No group has taken responsibility for his capture, and his whereabouts are not publicly known.
Mr Tice, who is turning 41 on Thursday, is one of the longest-held US hostages.
He was last seen in a video, blindfolded and in apparent distress, posted online weeks after his capture.
His mother, Debra Tice, told Axios, a US political news outlet, that the case of basketball star Brittney Griner, for whom the US has offered Russia a prisoner swap, shows “how things work when the government has a will”.
Earlier this week Mrs Tice told CBS News the Biden administration was not doing enough to work with Syria to bring her son home.
“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.”
Two Trump officials travelled to Syria two years ago in an effort to bring Mr Tice home.
They left after Syrian officials refused to negotiate while American soldiers remained in the country.
Mrs Tice wants to know why the negotiations have not continued.
“I know that the United States government has not reached out directly to the Syrian government to request a meeting,” she said.
Mr Biden’s statement on Wednesday appeared to refer to the May meeting that he held with Mr Tice’s parents at the White House, saying he made a “pledge” to them and the American people to return US citizens being wrongly detained abroad.
“The Tice family deserves answers, and more importantly, they deserve to be swiftly reunited with Austin,” Mr Biden said.