American who grew up in St. Louis released from detention in Syria

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A US citizen has been released from Syria, his family confirmed in a statement Friday.

“We are grateful to be reunited with our son Sam,” his parents, Thomas and Ann Goodwin, wrote. They noted that their 30-year-old son was “healthy and with his family.”

Sam Goodwin, who sought to travel to every country in the world, was last seen and heard from on May 25, near Qamishli, Syria, according to a family spokesperson. He was held for 62 days, they said. Additional circumstances around Goodwin’s detention in Syria were not immediately clear.

According to the Associated Press, Goodwin was born in New Jersey and grew up in St. Louis.

The Goodwins said they were “forever indebted” to Lebanese Gen. Abbas Ibrahim — the head of Lebanon’s Directorate of General Security — “and to all others who helped secure the release of our son.” They said they were asking for privacy as they “reconnect with Sam.”

Reuters was the first to report the news. According to a Lebanese security official cited in the Reuters report, Ibrahim mediated with the Syrian government to secure Goodwin’s release.

A US State Department spokesperson said they were aware of reports of the release of a US citizen from Syria, but could not comment further due to privacy considerations.

“The United States continues to work through every possible means to ensure the safe release of U.S. citizens reported missing or taken hostage in Syria,” they said.

Several other Americans are believed to remain in Syria, including Austin Tice and Majd Kamalmaz. Tice, an American journalist, went missing in Syria in 2012. State Department Special Representative for Syria Jim Jeffrey said in December 2018 that the US believes Tice is alive and “is being held captive inside Syria.” Tice’s parents told NBC News in May that they had “no doubt” their son is alive.

In January, Kamalmaz’s family made a public plea for the release of the 61-year-old psychotherapist. He was arrested in Syria more than two years ago and has not been heard from since.

“Our main goal is to try to reach President Trump to see if he’d be able to take this matter personally and try to bring our father back,” Kamalmaz’s son, Khalid, told CNN at the time.

The State Department urges citizens against traveling to Syria “due to terrorism, civil unrest, kidnapping, and armed conflict.” The US has not had diplomatic relations with Syria since 2012.

By Jennifer Hansler, CNN

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