Austin Tice (May 2012)
Austin Bennett Tice
August 11, 1981
|Disappeared||August 14, 2012 (aged 31)|
|Alma mater||Georgetown University|
|Parent(s)||Marc and Debra Tice|
Tice is from Houston, Texas, the eldest of seven siblings. He is an Eagle Scout and grew up dreaming of becoming an international correspondent for NPR. At the age of 16, Tice attended the University of Houston for one year, then transferred to and graduated from the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University in 2002. He completed two years of study at Georgetown University Law Center before going to Syria as a freelance journalist during the summer break before his third and final year of law studies.
Tice was previously a U.S. Marine Corps infantry officer, serving tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. Tice's father said, “He was hearing reports from Syria saying this is happening and that is happening but it can't be confirmed because there really are no reporters on the ground. And he said, ‘You know, this is a story that the world needs to know about.’” He was one of only a few foreign journalists to report from inside Syria during intensification of the civil war. He entered the country in May 2012 and traveled through central Syria, filing battlefield dispatches before arriving in Damascus in late July 2012. Tice's reporting garnered his Twitter account 2,000 followers. He stopped tweeting after August 11, 2012.
Tice was one of the first American correspondents to witness Syrian-rebel confrontations. His coverage was cited (along with efforts of additional reporters) as contributing to McClatchy winning a George Polk Award for war reporting for its coverage of Syria's civil war.
Tice was working as a freelance journalist for McClatchy, The Washington Post, CBS and other media when he was abducted from Darayya, Syria. There was no immediate contact from Tice or his captors, but in September 2012 a 47-second video of Tice blindfolded and bound was released. In October 2012, a U.S. spokesperson said it believed, based on the limited information it had, that Tice was in the custody of the Syrian government. No government or group in Syria has said it is holding Tice.
In February 2015, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) launched its pro bono #freeaustintice campaign. Since September 2012, RSF has been assisting and advising his family. His parents asked RSF to help them raise awareness about their son's situation. RSF partnered with the global advertising agency J. Walter Thompson to prepare a public awareness campaign in order to do everything possible to bring Austin Tice safely home. The campaign has since garnered over 17,000 signatories and a widespread blindfold pledge on social media.
In August 2018, a US State Department official said the US government still believe Tice is being held by the Syrian government or its allies. Concerning an August meeting between US and Syrian security officials in Damascus, two senior US intelligence sources told Reuters the "ongoing dialogue" with the Syrian government included the fate of Tice.
In November 2018, Reuters reported that Robert O’Brien, the US Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs, had called on Russia to "exert whatever influence they have in Syria" to secure Tice's release; the report stated that the Syrian government remain unaware of Tice's whereabouts.
In December 2018, Tice's parents announced during a press conference that they had received new information that indicated their son was still alive without elaborating further. Speaking to reporters from Beirut, Tice's parents claimed that the best chance of Tice's release would come from direct talks between the US and Syrian governments.
Tice, an Eagle Scout and the eldest of seven children, grew up in Houston and attended the University of Houston for a year before transferring to Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, which he graduated from in 2002. He went on to join the U.S. Marine Corps as an officer, rising to the rank of captain and serving combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, and enrolled in Georgetown Law School...