The US State Department revealed that it has held direct talks with Syria in an attempt to secure the release of detained American journalist Austin Tice.
US State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a statement yesterday that Washington has communicated directly with Syrian officials to seek the return of Austin, who has been detained in Syria for ten years.
Price declined to comment on the details of the US-Syrian talks, including the levels at which efforts were made.
“We will pursue every opportunity to engage if we feel it has the potential to bring Austin home,” said Price.
On 10 August, US President Joe Biden said in a press statement that Washington “knows with certainty that Tice has been held by the Syrian regime.”
“On the tenth anniversary of his abduction, I am calling on Syria to end this and help us bring him home. There is no higher priority in my Administration than the recovery and return of Americans held hostage or wrongfully detained abroad,” said Biden.
Austin disappeared on 12 August 2012, during his coverage of the civil war in the area around Damascus, and then appeared only once, on 26 September 2012, in a short video, being detained by a group of unknown gunmen. To this day no party has claimed responsibility for his capture.
Austin Tice worked as a freelance correspondent for the Washington Post, McClatchy, CBC News, Al Jazeera English, AFP amongst others.