A U.S. official revealed a surprising update on the case of an American who disappeared in Syria six years ago.
State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert said at a press conference Tuesday that journalist and Marine veteran Austin Tice is believed to be alive, and the U.S. government is actively taking steps to secure his return, according to Axios.
Tice, a Texas-based freelance journalist and Marine Corps veteran, was kidnapped six years ago in Syria.
Tice traveled to Syria to report on the country’s ongoing conflict, where he remained for three months, according to a website established by his family. His story was completed and filed, and he was expected to leave on Aug. 14, 2012, just three days after his 31st birthday. His family believes Tice got into his car, but never crossed the border.
Six weeks later, a 43-second video surfaced showing Tice held captive by a group of armed men. The family believes his is still alive and held captive.
A reporter asked Nauert at Tuesday’s press briefing if she had any remarks on the sixth anniversary of Austin Tice’s disappearance in Syria.
Nauert responded, saying Tice is a “U.S. citizen, and a journalist who was reporting from Syria and went missing six years ago to this day. I know his parents have been speaking publicly about how much they miss him, about the U.S. government’s response to address his disappearance, his location, and attempts to bring him home.”
“We believe him to be alive,” Nauert said. “We remain deeply concerned about his wellbeing and we’re actively working to bring Austin Tice home.”
Nauert refused to provide any details on suspected locations or persons involved in Tice’s disappearance, citing “safety and security” concerns, as well as consideration for the family.
“We hope that we will have a positive conclusion to his case at some point soon,” Nauert added.
Another reporter asked for a response to reports that Tice’s parents called on the U.S. government to hold talks with the Syrian government to return their son.
“I can assure you that we’re doing everything that we can to try to bring him home, and our conversations certainly with the family will continue,” Nauert concluded.
Nauert said that Robert O’Brien, “special presidential envoy for hostage affairs,” is working on the case and others involving missing American citizens.
Tice is a graduate of Georgetown University, and was expected to begin his final year at Georgetown’s Law School. He is also a captain in the Marine Corps.
Tice is listed as a kidnapped person on the FBI’s Most Wanted list.