NEW YORK (Reuters) - The State Department has said it believes American journalist Austin Tice, who disappeared in Syria in August, is alive and being held by the Syrian government.
A shaky, 47-second video surfaced on Monday that appeared to show Tice, blindfolded and being led by a group of masked men up a rocky pathway. At one point he is pushed to his knees and cries out, “Oh Jesus, oh Jesus.”
U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters on Monday the department had seen the video but could not confirm it was Tice, or whether the scene was authentic or had been staged.
“There’s a lot of reason for the Syrian government to duck responsibility, but we continue to believe that, to the best of our knowledge, we think he is in Syrian government custody,” Nuland said.
Tice, 31, is a freelance journalist whose work has appeared in the Washington Post and other U.S. newspapers. According to Tice’s Twitter profile, he is also a former U.S. Marine Corps infantry officer.
In a statement published by the McClatchy Company newspapers, Tice’s parents, Marc and Debra Tice said: “Knowing Austin is alive and well is comforting to our family.”
“Though it is difficult to see our son in such a setting and situation as that depicted in the video, it is reassuring that he appears to be unharmed.”
Reporting by Edith Honan and Jackie Frank