US & Canada

American 'worldwide traveller' freed in Syria

Sam Goodwin, 30 Image copyright Searching4Sam.com
Image caption The family of Sam Goodwin, 30, said he was healthy

An American blogger reportedly trying to visit every country in the world has been released from custody in Syria with the help of Lebanese officials.

The release was first announced by the officials without naming the American citizen.

He was later identified by his parents as Sam Goodwin, 30. They thanked a Lebanese general for helping.

The US state department said it was "aware of reports" of a US citizen's release from Syria.

But it added that "privacy considerations prevent us from commenting further on this case".

In a statement to US media, Mr Goodwin's family said: "Sam is healthy and with his family.

"We are forever indebted to [Lebanese] General Abbas Ibrahim and to all others who helped secure the release of our son.

"We will have more to say at a later date."

Travel advice

According to his website, Mr Goodwin grew up in St Louis and quit his job at a start up company in Singapore last year to travel to every country in the world.

"I couldn't be more grateful for the perspective on the world I've developed through my experiences," he wrote on the site, Searching4Sam.

According to the UK's Daily Telegraph, Mr Goodwin was detained by Syrian forces after leaving the Kurdish-held north-eastern city of Qamishli.

Several American citizens are believed to be held in Syria, including journalist Austin Tice, who disappeared while working for the Washington Post in August 2012.

Last May, his parents told NBC News they had "no doubt" Mr Tice was still alive.

Until his release, Mr Goodwin was not previously known to have been trapped in Syria.

In its statement the state department said it continued "to work through every possible means to ensure the safe release of US citizens reported missing or taken hostage in Syria".

US citizens are advised against travelling to Syria, due to the ongoing civil war which has claimed hundreds of thousands of lives.

Read more: Why is there a war in Syria?

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