Lebanon denies release of journalist Austin Tice kidnapped in Syria

Lebanon denies release of journalist Austin Tice kidnapped in Syria
The Lebanese army has formally denied the release of journalist Austin Tice, who was kidnapped in Syria in 2012.
2 min read
13 November, 2020
US journalist Austin Tice was abducted in Syria [AFP/Getty]
Lebanon denied rumours on Friday that a United States military plane observed at its Rayak Air Base was there to bring home kidnapped journalist Austin Tice

"A newspaper and some websites reported that a US military plane had arrived at Rayak air base to transport American journalist Austin Tice," the Lebanese army said in a statement.

"It is important for the Army Command to make clear that the American military plane was on a routine mission with an American team coming to train some military units," it added.

"They finished their mission and then left, without Tice."

Tice was a freelance photojournalist working for Agence France-Presse, McClatchy News, The Washington Post, CBS and other news organisations when he disappeared after being detained at a checkpoint near Damascus on August 14, 2012.

Thirty-one years old at the time he was captured, Tice appeared blindfolded in the custody of an unidentified group of armed men in a video a month later.

Since then, there has been no official information on whether he is alive or dead.

There was speculation this week that Austin Tice had been released and was being taken back to the US upon reports that an American military plane had landed at Rayak base in Lebanon's Beqaa governorate.

"Lots of rumors going around that journalist Austin Tice, who was taken hostage in Syria in Aug 2012, has been released," journalist Yashar Ali tweeted Thursday.

"There is NO official confirmation of these rumors and no reputable news orgs have confirmed that he's been released."

Read more: Mother of American journalist missing in Syria says Pompeo 'undermining' his release

Despite the absence of diplomatic relations, a US official visited Damascus in August to seek the freedom of Tice as well as Syrian-American Majd Kamalmaz.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in October that Syria's regime has not revealed all it knows about two missing Americans despite the rare visit by a US official.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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