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American tourist released from Syria in deal brokered by Lebanon

Syria releases American man held captive

An American tourist who was being held in Syria has been released in a deal brokered by Lebanon, CBS News has confirmed. Sam Goodwin, 30, was reunited with his parents Friday morning overseas. Goodwin's family said he had been released with the aid of Abbas Ibrahim, the head of Lebanese internal security.

"We are grateful to be reunited with our son Sam," Goodwin's parents, Thomas and Ann Goodwin, said in a statement. "Sam is healthy and with his family." They thanked Ibrahim and others who helped secure their son's release, adding, "We will have more to say at a later date. Right now, we appreciate our privacy as we reconnect with Sam."

Goodwin was taken captive on May 25. Sources familiar with the case believe he was being held by the Syrian government, not a terrorist group. Goodwin was not being held hostage but was a detainee. He was tried and convicted of entering the country without a visa.

A government official confirmed to CBS News that no ransom was paid for his release. 

It's unclear exactly what Goodwin was doing in Syria, though Goodwin had blogged about his goal to travel to every country in the world. He posted videos of himself walking with cheetahs, feeding tortoises and sitting atop waterfalls on YouTube. 

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Sam Goodwin Facebook

Goodwin was reportedly last seen on a security camera in a neighborhood in northern Syria controlled by the Assad regime. 

There are several other Americans believed to be held captive in Syria, where civil war has raged since 2011 and the terrorist group ISIS developed a stronghold. One of the most high-profile is freelance journalist Austin Tice, who disappeared in August 2012. Tice, a former Marine Corps captain who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, was shown on a video five weeks after his disappearance surrounded by unidentified armed militants.

In 2018, the FBI offered a $1 million reward for information "leading directly to the safe location, recovery, and return" of Tice. At the time, CBS News reported that although some believe he was captured by Syrian regime forces or pro-government militias, the circumstances surrounding Tice's disappearance remained a mystery. 

Tice's parents told NBC News in May they have "no doubt" he is alive.

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