Biden Administration Hopes to Learn Fate of U.S. Hostage in Syria
WASHINGTON — The Trump administration pushed hard to free Austin Tice, an American abducted in Syria in 2012. The C.I.A. formed a special cell to gather intelligence, a powerful Persian Gulf ally was enlisted to help and, among other highly unusual personal entreaties, senior officials traveled to Damascus to plead their case with Syria’s top spy.
None of it worked.
The kidnapping of Mr. Tice, a journalist covering the Syrian war who was abducted in a Damascus suburb and is one of the longest-held American hostages abroad, has been an enduring frustration for government officials.
They had found glimpses of hope over the years. Mr. Tice briefly escaped captivity shortly after he was kidnapped, according to two people familiar with the episode — but he was recaptured. And during the Obama administration, the C.I.A. obtained a tantalizing piece of information: a Syrian document indicating that its government had been holding Mr. Tice.
Former officials described it as a type of judicial form, possibly showing a prisoner or arrest number. It is not clear whether the United States or its proxies ever confronted Syrian officials with the document.