President Biden on Wednesday called on Syria to release American journalist and veteran Austin Tice, saying the U.S. government knows “with certainty” that he is being held by the Syrian regime.
Tice, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran and native of Houston, Texas, traveled to Syria in May 2012 as an independent journalist before his final year at Georgetown Law School. He was abducted at a checkpoint west of the Syrian capital of Damascus in August 2012.
“We know with certainty that he has been held by the Syrian regime,” Biden said Wednesday. “We have repeatedly asked the government of Syria to work with us so that we can bring Austin home. On the tenth anniversary of his abduction, I am calling on Syria to end this and help us bring him home.”
A 43-second video surfaced online about five weeks after Tice’s capture that showed him surrounded by what his family described as an “unusual group of apparent jihadists.”
Tice, who was blindfolded, muttered, “Oh Jesus,” multiple times in the video. He has not been heard from since.
“The Tice family deserves answers, and more importantly, they deserve to be swiftly reunited with Austin,” Biden said Wednesday. “We stand with Austin’s many loved ones, and we will not rest until we bring Austin home.”
Tice’s parents have pushed the Biden administration to engage diplomatically with the Syrian government secure their son’s release.
“He’s just an amazing man,” his mother, Debra Tice, told “Fox & Friends First” in May. “Eagle Scout, veteran, captain of the United States Marine Corps, a graduate of Georgetown School of Foreign Service, and his very favorite thing in the whole world is to be the oldest of our seven children.”
Syria has denied that it is holding him, but Secretary of State Antony Blinken demanded Wednesday Syria “acknowledge the detention of Austin and every other U.S. national held in Syria.”
“Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs Roger Carstens will continue to engage with the Syrian government in close coordination with the White House, Hostage Recovery Fusion Cell, and our team here at the State Department,” Blinken said.