The U.S. State Department has confirmed an American hostage held since 2012 was freed by his kidnappers on Sunday in Syria.
— Jim Roberts (@nycjim) August 24, 2014
The release of the writer and journalist, Peter Theo Curtis, came just days after journalist James Foley was brutally killed by his Islamic State group captors.
Secretary of State John Kerry said in a statement that the U.S. was using “every diplomatic, intelligence and military tool” available to secure the release of other American hostages being held in Syria.
Kerry said Curtis had been held by an al-Qaida-linked group fighting the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad. Curtis’ cousin, Viva Hardigg, told the Associated Press that Curtis was held by the Nusra Front, an al-Qaida affiliate in Syria.
Hardigg told the AP:
We are deeply relieved and grateful for his return and the many people who have helped us secure his freedom. At the same time, we are thinking constantly of the other hostages who are still held and those working to help them be freed. We want to do everything we can to support their efforts.
Read the full statement from Sec. Kerry:
Particularly after a week marked by unspeakable tragedy, we are all relieved and grateful knowing that Theo Curtis is coming home after so much time held in the clutches of Jabhat Al-Nusrah.
For two years, this young American has been separated from his family. Finally he is returning home. Theo’s mother, whom we’ve known from Massachusetts and with whom we’ve worked during this horrific period, simply refused to give up and has worked indefatigably to keep hope alive that this day could be a reality.
Over these last two years, the United States reached out to more than two dozen countries asking for urgent help from anyone who might have tools, influence, or leverage to help secure Theo’s release and the release of any Americans held hostage in Syria.
Every waking hour, our thoughts and our faith remain with the Americans still held hostage and with their families, and we continue to use every diplomatic, intelligence, and military tool at our disposal to find them and bring our fellow citizens home.
Reuters reports Curtis was handed over to a United Nations representative in Syria.