State Department believes missing U.S. journalist is alive in Syria: report

State Department believes missing U.S. journalist is alive in Syria: report
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The State Department believes that a U.S. journalist missing for six years in Syria is alive and being held captive in the country.

Austin Tice, a Houston native who vanished in 2012 while working as a freelance journalist across Syria, is being held alive as a hostage, according to the State Department.

The department "has every reason to believe" Tice is still alive, Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs Robert O'Brien told ABC News

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Officials did not elaborate on who the Trump administration believes is holding Tice, or what evidence the U.S. has of his status.

Tice, a former Marine, was the subject of backchannel communications between Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoOvernight Defense: Shanahan exit shocks Washington | Pentagon left rudderless | Lawmakers want answers on Mideast troop deployment | Senate could vote on Saudi arms deal this week | Pompeo says Trump doesn't want war with Iran Progressive nonprofits sue White House over missing notes from Putin meeting Progressive nonprofits sue White House over missing notes from Putin meeting MORE and Syria's intelligence minister Ali Mamlouk last year, according to The New York Times, but efforts to secure his release collapsed following a chemical weapons attack on civilians in Syria suspected to have been committed on Bashar al-Assad's government.

The U.S. government reportedly believes that Tice is being held by the Syrian government, the Times reported last year, though Assad's officials have publicly denied holding him in captivity.

“Austin Tice is not in the hands of Syrian authorities, and we don’t have any information about him at all,” Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad told The Associated Press.

The U.S. has offered a $1 million reward for information leading to Tice's return, and O’Brien said on Tuesday that the Trump administration was continuing efforts to secure his homecoming, according to The Associated Press.