DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) — Syria denied on Wednesday it is holding U.S. journalist Austin Tice or other Americans after President Joe Biden accused the Syrian government of detaining him.
The Syrian Foreign Ministry said in a statement that Damascus “denies it had kidnapped or is holding any American citizen on its territories.”
“The U.S. issued last week misleading and illogical statements by the American president and secretary of state that included baseless accusations against Syria that it had kidnapped or detained American citizens including former U.S. Marine Austin Tice,” the statement said.
Biden’s comments last week came in a statement released by the White House to mark the 10th anniversary of Tice’s abduction, which took place when he was in Syria covering its lengthy conflict. Biden’s remarks were the clearest indication so far that the U.S. is certain Tice is being held by the government of President Bashar Assad.
Tice went missing shortly after his 31st birthday on Aug. 14, 2012 at a checkpoint in a contested area west of the capital Damascus. A video released a month later showed him blindfolded and held by armed men, saying “Oh, Jesus.” He has not been heard from since.
Tice is one of two Americans who went missing in Syria. The other is Majd Kamalmaz, a psychologist from Virginia, who vanished in Syria in 2017.
Tice is from Houston and his work had been published by The Washington Post, McClatchy newspapers and other outlets. He went to Syria to cover the conflict that started in 2011. The war has left hundreds of thousands dead and displaced nearly half of the pre-conflict population of 23 million. More than 5 million of those are outside the country.