The US Congress is exerting more pressure on the US Administration to continue pushing for the release of Austin Tice, a US journalist who is held hostage in Syria.
US Senators Patrick Leahy, Robert Menendez, Jim Risch, and John Cornyn sent a letter to President Joe Biden urging his administration to continue pushing for the safe release of Tice who has been held captive in Syria for nearly a decade.
“The safe return of all American hostages around the world in Venezuela, Iran, China, Russia, and beyond also deserve our unfettered attention,” they said in their joint statement.
“We encourage continued diplomacy on their cases and strongly support your efforts to bring them home to their families as soon as possible. We also encourage you to work with our allies to consider ways to further disincentivize the hostage taking of American citizens,” the letter read.
“Austin represents the best our nation has to offer, and we are committed to working with you to return him to his loving family. As an American and a veteran, Austin deserves the full and active support of our government to bring him home safely,” the letter noted.
“We are writing to express our appreciation to you and your Administration’s commitment to bring Mr. Austin Tice back home. This past December, your National Security Advisor, Mr. Jake Sullivan, met at some length with Mrs. Debra Tice, mother of Mr. Austin Tice. It is encouraging to know of your Administration’s commitment to securing Mr. Tice’s safe return."
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has repeatedly vowed to release Austin and other hostages estimated at 50-100 American hostages around the world.
“I am personally committed to bringing home all Americans held hostage or wrongfully detained abroad. We believe that it is within Bashar al-Assad’s power to free Austin,” Blinken said in a previous statement.
“As the Arab world slowly reintegrates Assad after a decade-long civil war, Debra Tice believes now is the best opportunity in years to secure her son's release,” according to Axios website.
Two Trump administration officials secretly flew to Damascus in September 2020, to meet Syrian officials, in an attempt to release Tice.
The Syrians — without providing proof Austin Tice was still alive — demanded three conditions for his release, the AP reported earlier this year. The Syrians demanded lifting sanctions imposed on the regime, withdrawing US troops from Syria and restoring diplomatic ties.