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Trump calls on Syria to release journalist Austin Tice

President Trump on Thursday urged the Syrian government to secure the release of journalist Austin Tice, an American journalist kidnapped while on assignment there in 2012. 

"Recovering Americans held captive and imprisoned abroad continues to be a top priority for my administration. We have one young gentleman, Austin Tice, and we are working very hard with Syria to get him out. We hope the Syrian government will do that," Mr. Trump told reporters during an unrelated briefing on the coronavirus. "Syria, please work with us, and we would appreciate you letting him out."

Mr. Trump went on to say that the U.S. "has done a lot for Syria." He also praised Tice's mother, who has strongly advocated for her son's release, calling her an "incredible woman." However, Mr. Trump did not confirm that he has any knowledge about Tice's health.

Mr. Trump also announced Thursday that the U.S. had secured the release of Omer Fekourhy, an American citizen imprisoned in Lebanon since September 2019.

In 2018, national security adviser Robert O'Brien, who was then the U.S. special presidential envoy for hostage affairs, said that he believed Tice was still alive.

Tice, a former Marine Corps captain who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, traveled to Syria in the spring of 2012 to document the nation's then-young civil war as a freelance reporter before starting his final year at Georgetown Law School. After filing award-winning reports for various outlets — including McClatchy, The Washington Post and CBS News — Tice disappeared on Aug. 14, 2012.

Camilo Montoya-Galvez contributed to this report.

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