DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) — Syria on Wednesday denied holding American journalist Austin Tice or other Americans after President Joe Biden accused the Syrian government of detaining him.
The Syrian Foreign Ministry said in a statement that Damascus “denies that it has abducted or detained any US citizen in its territories”.
“The United States released misleading and illogical statements from the US President and Secretary of State last week that included baseless accusations against Syria that it abducted or detained US citizens, including the former Marine American Austin Tice,” the statement said.
Biden’s comments last week came in a statement released by the White House to mark the 10th anniversary of Tice’s kidnapping, which took place while he was in Syria covering his long conflict. Biden’s remarks were the clearest indication so far that the United States is certain that Tice is being held by President Bashar Assad’s government.
Tice disappeared shortly after his 31st birthday on August 14, 2012 at a checkpoint in a disputed area west of the capital Damascus. A video released a month later showed him blindfolded and held by gunmen, saying “Oh, Jesus.” He has not been heard from since.
Tice is one of two Americans missing in Syria. The other is Majd Kamalmaz, a psychologist from Virginia, who disappeared in Syria in 2017.
Tice is originally from Houston and his work has been published by The Washington Post, McClatchy newspapers and other outlets. He traveled to Syria to cover the conflict which began in 2011. The war has claimed hundreds of thousands of lives and displaced almost half of the pre-conflict population of 23 million. More than 5 million of them are outside the country.
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