U.S. officials believe missing reporter Austin Tice is still alive — more than six years after he went missing in Syria.
“I want to make it very clear that the United States government believes Austin Tice is alive,” said U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs Robert O’Brien.
O’Brien made the announcement at a National Press Club event Tuesday where he added the State Department is “deeply concerned” about the health of the journalist, whom he believes operatives with ties to the Syrian government is holding him in “captivity.”
Tice, a freelancer with the Washington Post and CBS News, went missing in August 2012 while covering the Syrian civil war.
Before becoming a reporter, Tice, 37, served in Iraq and Afghanistan as a U.S. Marine. More than a month later, Tice appeared on video blindfolded and surrounded by an unidentified military unit.
U.S. officials are hoping Russia will get involved in the investigation as they maintain a working relationship with Syrian strongman Bashar Al-Assad.
“One of the things that both Russia and the United States should agree on is that innocent Americans, or innocent Russians for that matter, should not be held hostage and should not be held against their will,” O’Brien said.
CBS reports that O’Brien told reporters in D.C. that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and outgoing U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley have been “intimately” involved in the matter. National Security Adviser John Bolton has kept Tice’s parents abreast of developments.