US pleads for release of abducted journalist Austin Tice

The US believes Andrew Tice was captured by the Syrian government outside Damascus

(FILES) In this file photo taken on December 04, 2018, Marc and Debra Tice, the parents of US journalist Austin Tice (portrait L), who was abducted in Syria more than six years ago, speak at a press conference in Beirut. 
US President Donald Trump personally wrote to his Syrian counterpart Bashar al-Assad about the case of journalist Tice, who has been missing since 2012, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on August 14, 2020.

The United States has reaffirmed its commitment to securing the release of freelance journalist Austin Tice on the eighth anniversary of his disappearance in Syria.

Mr Tice has not been seen since he went missing in Syria on August 14, 2012, but US authorities believe he is alive.

In March, US President Donald Trump called on Syria to release Mr Tice and the State Department renewed the plea on Friday, as the missing journalist nears his 3,000th day in captivity.

The US believes he was captured by the Syrian government outside Damascus, but Syria has publicly denied any knowledge of the disappearance.

After he was abducted a 43-second video was released called ‘Austin Tice is alive’, showing the journalist being held by a group of unidentifiable kidnappers.

It is the only message his family has received about his condition.

The latest appeal also comes three days after Mr Tice’s 31st birthday.

“Austin Tice’s release and return home are long, long overdue. We will do our utmost to achieve that goal,” US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said.

“The US government has repeatedly attempted to engage Syrian officials to seek Austin’s release,” he added. “No one should doubt the president’s commitment to bringing home all US citizens held hostage or wrongfully detained overseas.

“Nowhere is that determination stronger than in Austin Tice’s case.”

The statement also confirmed President Trump wrote to Syrian President Bashar Al Assad in March to propose direct dialogue.

The US special envoy for hostage affairs, Roger Carstens, also “tirelessly pursues” the return of Mr Tice.

“He [Carstens] and I, like the president, want there to be no need for another statement like this a year from now,” Mr Pompeo added.

On the family’s website is the message: “We ask the governments of the Syrian Arab Republic and the United States to make every possible diplomatic effort to bring Austin safely home.”