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American therapist detained in Syria more than seven years ago has died

By Avery Lotz, CNN

(CNN) — Majd Kamalmaz, an American man detained in Syria more than seven years ago, has died, according to a statement from the Bring Our Families Home Campaign (BoFH).

“Tragically, he did not survive the brutal conditions of the prisons, enduring seven long years without a case, trial or any form of communication with his family,” read a statement from Jonathan Franks, spokesperson for BoFH, a group that campaigns on behalf of Americans held hostage or wrongfully detained overseas.

“He was a kindhearted, loving and caring person who embodied these qualities as a son, husband, father, grandfather, brother and uncle.”

Kamalmaz, a Texas psychotherapist, was detained in 2017 at a checkpoint in Damascus, Syria, while on a trip to visit family.

In 2020, CNN reported that Kamalmaz’s family members, who had not heard from him since his detainment, were hopeful that there would be momentum in his case, following a visit to Damascus from Trump administration officials. The visit was held in an effort to secure the release of American prisoners believed to be held by the Syrian government.

But Kamalmaz did not return home — and the silence since his 2017 detainment persisted.

“We do feel invisible,” said Maryam Kamalmaz, speaking on the first-ever Hostage and Wrongful Detainee Day about her father’s disappearance earlier this year.

She and other family members of detained Americans called on President Joe Biden to meet with them, CNN reported, but that request was not fulfilled.

“For the last seven years, we have been struggling to come to grips with my father’s absence,” Maryam Kamalmaz said in the statement announcing her father’s death.

“The anguish and emotional turmoil that our family has been through has taken a heavy toll on our lives. He will be missed tremendously, yet we hope that his legacy of helping others in need lives on and is carried out by many.”

The FBI did not confirm Kamalmaz’s death but reaffirmed the trauma psychologist had not been heard from since he first went missing.

“In 2017, Majd Kamalmaz, a trauma psychologist who worked with individuals affected by war and natural disasters, traveled to Syria to visit a family member,” a statement from the FBI’s Hostage Recovery Fusion Cell read. “Kamalmaz has not been seen or heard from since his disappearance in Syria in February 2017. No matter how much time has passed, the Hostage Recovery Fusion Cell works on behalf of the victims and their families to recover all U.S. hostages and support the families whose loved ones are held captive or missing.”

This story has been updated with additional information.

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