Mother of Austin Tice says Pompeo undermining his release
Tice, a freelance journalist, went missing in Syria in 2012 while he was reporting and although little is known about his whereabouts it is believed his is being held by the Syrian regime.
In a statement published by the DC National Press Club ahead of the US elections, Debra Tice accused Pompeo of getting in the way of alleged efforts by US President Donald Trump to bring her son home.
Debra Tice said the family were "elated" to read about renewed negotiations in Damascus for the release of US citizens, crediting Trump for the efforts.
Her comments refer to an investigation published earlier this month which found Kash Patel, Trump's deputy assistant and the administration's counter-terrorism representative, went to Syria this year to try and tried to secure the release of two Americans, including Tice.
The photojournalist was last seen in a September 2012 video and although he is believed to be held by the Syrian regime, Damascus has not publicly acknowledged this.
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Debra Tice also slammed Pompeo over a statement he made on 21 October, where the US official said his country would not change its aggressive foreign policy towards Syria in order to release hostages.
"Unfortunately for Austin, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is undermining the President's crucial outreach, refusing any form of direct diplomatic engagement with the Syrian government," she said. "President Trump is committed to seeing Austin walk free, whereas Secretary Pompeo is willing to accept his continued detention."
The State Department and White House national security council have not publicly responded to the statement.
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