Syria denies it is holding US journalist Austin Tice

FILE – 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. The Syrian Foreign Ministry denied on Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2022, that it is holding U.S. journalist Austin Tice or other Americans after President Joe Biden accused the Syrian government of detaining him. Tice went missing shortly after his 31st birthday on Aug. 14, 2012 at a checkpoint in a contested area west of the capital Damascus. (AP Photo/Bilal Hussein, File)

Syria’s foreign ministry on Wednesday denied claims that the government is holding American journalist Austin Tice, just days after the 10th anniversary of his disappearance in the country.

The ministry said statements from President Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken last week calling on the Syrian government to release him are misleading. It said the Syrian government denies that it has kidnapped or disappeared any U.S. citizen who has entered its territory and emphasizes that it complies with international law. 

Tice, a former Marine, was kidnapped in August 2012 while covering the Syrian civil war as a freelance journalist. 

The foreign ministry said any dialogue or official communication with the U.S. government will be public and based on respect for Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and “non-interference” in its internal affairs. 

Biden said in his statement last week that he has repeatedly called on the Syrian government to release Tice, saying that there “is no higher priority” for his administration than ensuring the safe return of every American wrongfully detained or held hostage abroad. 

Tice’s mother said following Biden’s statement that the president’s remarks show he is “ready to engage with Syria. 

Tice’s parents called on Biden to get directly involved in securing their son’s release in an open letter in October. Biden met with them in May to reassure them that his administration is working to bring him home. 

Biden has also been under pressure to secure the release of WNBA star Brittney Griner and former Marine Paul Whelan from Russia. Griner was sentenced to nine years in prison earlier this month, while Whelan was arrested in 2018 and has been imprisoned since 2020.

Tags American hostages Antony Blinken Austin Tice Austin Tice Biden Brittney Griner kidnapping Syria Syrian Civil War wrongfully detained

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