Syria Missing Journalist
Syria Missing Journalist

WASHINGTON - The Trump administration believes missing U.S. journalist Austin Tice, thought to have been captured in Syria six years ago, is still alive.

"We believe him to be alive," State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said on the sixth anniversary of his disappearance. "We remain deeply concerned about his well-being, and we are actively working to bring Austin Tice home."

Nauert declined to provide details about the U.S. conclusion or where Tice is thought to be held, and by whom.

Tice was a 31-year-old freelance photojournalist working for AFP, McClatchy News, The Washington Post, CBS, and other news organizations when he was detained at a checkpoint near Damascus on August 14, 2012.

A former Marine, he 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 word about whether he is alive or dead.

Earlier this year, the U.S. government announced a reward of $1 million for information about Tice.

Speaking to the Post, his parents said they hoped the Trump administration would open direct talks with the Syrian government to secure his release.

"We really do believe that this administration has a greater commitment to bring people home," his mother, Debra Tice, said.

With U.S.-Syria relations broken off, Nauert declined to answer directly when asked whether direct talks with Damascus on Tice were possible.

"I can assure you that we're doing everything that we can to try to bring him home," she said.