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Syria Denies U.S. Journalist Is In Its Custody

austintice aug17 lt

Syria has denied Washington's claim that missing American journalist Austin Tice is in its custody.

Syria's foreign ministry said in a statement that the country "denies that it has kidnapped or is hiding any American citizens who entered its territory or resided in areas under the sovereignty and authority of the Syrian government."

The clarification by Damascus comes barely a week after President Joe Biden called on the government of Syria to release Tice.

In a statement issued on the tenth anniversary of Tice's captivity last week, President Biden said, "We know with certainty that he has been held by the Government of Syria."

Biden vowed that his administration will not rest until it brings Austin home.

Tice, 41, was one of only a few foreign journalists to report from inside Syria during the worst days of the civil war.

Tice was working as a freelance journalist for McClatchy, The Washington Post, CBS, and other media when he was abducted from Darayya, near capital Damascus. There was no immediate contact from Tice or his captors, but in September 2012 a brief video of Tice blindfolded and bound was released.

In October, a U.S. spokesperson said it was believed, based on the limited information it had, that Tice was in the custody of the Syrian government. No government or group in Syria has said it is holding Tice.

In April 2018, the FBI had increased their reward for information regarding Tice's whereabouts to $1 million and two U.S. officials said Tice is believed to have survived captivity.

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