Raising Awareness for a Missing Journalist

Debra Tice and FBI negotiator Gary Noesner discuss Austin Tice’s abduction. (Flickr)

Debra Tice and FBI negotiator Gary Noesner discuss Austin Tice’s abduction. (Flickr)

Over 100 volunteers came to Washington D.C. on Monday, September 23, in an effort to raise awareness for Austin Tice, an American freelance journalist who has now entered his eighth year of captivity in Syria.

Tice, a Marine Corps veteran and graduate of the Georgetown School of Foreign Service, went to Syria in May 2012 to report on the escalating conflict and its impact on the lives of ordinary civilians. Tice intended to return to the United States after his 31st birthday, on August 11, to complete his final year at the Georgetown Law Center.

On August 14, he left for Lebanon by car from the Damascus suburb of Darayya, which was then in rebel hands. Shortly after embarking on his journey, he was detained at a checkpoint. Five weeks later, a video entitled “Austin Tice is Alive” emerged on a pro-government webpage, which showed Tice being held captive by a group of unidentified armed men. Neither Tice nor his captors have been heard from since.

In November 2018, Robert O’Brien, now the United States National Security Advisor, announced that U.S. officials have reason to believe that Tice is still alive. The U.S. State Department has been working through the Czech Embassy in Damascus to press the Syrian government for information. Syrian government officials have denied any knowledge about Tice’s whereabouts and any involvement in his detention.

No other organization has taken public credit nor made any demands in exchange for his release. The FBI has offered a $1 million reward for information leading to his return, and organizations such as Reporters Without Borders and the National Press Club have joined the Tice family in their campaign to find their son.

Tice’s parents, Marc and Debra Tice, continue to persevere in their efforts to ensure his safe return. On Monday, in conjunction with the National Press Club Journalism Institute, volunteers gathered on Capitol Hill to join the Tice family in a congressional outreach effort to help gather legislative support to bring Tice home.

Throughout the day, volunteers circled the Capitol, urging members of Congress to send a letter to President Donald Trump pushing for continued efforts to free Tice and return him to his family. Members of Congress were also given invitations to an upcoming exhibit of Tice’s photos from Syria.

The recent releases of Sam Goodwin, an American, and Kristian Baxer, a Canadian, from captivity in Syria are welcome news to those searching for Tice. The Tice family hopes that their son’s release will follow. The Tices are visiting Washington, D.C., this month to meet with officials of the Trump administration and will continue to raise public awareness of their son’s captivity.