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Syria denies holding Austin Tice after Biden’s release request

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BEIRUT – Syria on Wednesday denied holding missing American journalist Austin Tice, kidnapped in Syria ten years ago at the height of the country’s civil war.

In a statement, the Foreign Office last week responded to President Biden’s claim that Tice was being held by the Syrian government, calling it “unfounded accusations against the Syrian government of kidnapping or arrest American citizens, including Austin Tice, a serviceman in the United States”. Army.” He added that Tice and others entered illegally.

“Syria emphasizes that any official dialogue or communication with the US government will only be public and based on the rule of respect for the sovereignty, independence and unity of the land of the Syrian Arab Republic,” the statement said. .

Washington Post publisher and CEO Fred Ryan delivers remarks at a National Press Club event to mark the tenth anniversary of Austin Tice’s disappearance in Syria. (Video: The Washington Post)

Biden says US knows Syria detained Austin Tice, calls again for journalist’s release

He also blamed the US government, saying it violated the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations when he “not only turned a blind eye, but encouraged dozens of American citizens to go to Syria and enter its lands illegally and without the authorization of its government, through unofficial border crossings or by sneaking into areas controlled by armed terrorist groups”.

Tice was abducted in Damascus on August 14, 2012, just days after his 31st birthday. He served in the US Marine Corps and later became a journalist covering Syria, notably for the Washington Post.

“We know for sure that he was detained by the Syrian regime,” Biden said in a statement Aug. 10. “We have repeatedly asked the Syrian government to work with us so that we can bring Austin home.”

10 years after Austin Tice was kidnapped in Syria, his parents are still fighting for him

In early May, Biden met with Tice’s parents, Marc and Debra, and promised to work to secure his release.

“The Tice family deserves answers, and more importantly, they deserve to be reunited with Austin quickly,” Biden said. “We stand with the many loved ones of Austin, and we won’t rest until we bring Austin home. Ten years is far, far too long. So is for each additional day.

Tice was last seen in a video posted to YouTube shortly after his disappearance, showing him blindfolded and being driven through rough terrain by gunmen in white robes.

Tice served as a Marine in Iraq and Afghanistan, then graduated from the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. He attended law school until 2012 when he decided to cover Syria as a freelance journalist.

Journalists covering the conflict outside the control of the Syrian government had to enter the country illegally via Turkey or other neighboring countries. Tice won a Polk Award for his war reporting for McClatchy Newspapers.

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