News

August 10, 2021

As Austin Tice spends his 40th birthday in captivity, RSF reaffirms its commitment to his safe return

RSF / Newseum
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) calls for the safe release and return of American journalist Austin Tice, who was kidnapped near the Syrian capital of Damascus on August 14, 2012 while reporting on the country’s civil war. Austin, who will turn 40 on August 11, is entering his tenth year in captivity.

Austin should be marking the milestone of his 40th birthday surrounded by loved ones and celebrating the many personal and professional successes that he would have no doubt had if he hadn’t been held against his will these past nine years,” said Anna K. Nelson, the Executive Director of RSF USA. “It’s high time that Austin be allowed to come home. His parents, Debra and Marc, have worked tirelessly to end his ordeal. We’re asking the US government to continue relevant and direct engagement with the Syrian government regarding Austin’s case, and for those who are detaining him to do the right thing in letting Austin go.”

March 2021 marked the tenth anniversary of the popular uprising that led to Syria's civil war, which has had a devastating impact on the country’s media and journalists. According to information gathered by RSF and its partners since 2011, at least 300 professional and non-professional journalists have been killed while covering artillery bombardments and airstrikes, murdered by various parties to the conflict, or have either disappeared or fled abroad.

Journalists in Syria have been under attack for a decade,” said RSF Secretary-General Christophe Deloire. “Nine years in captivity is nine too many for Austin and his family RSF stands firm in its resolve that Austin be released and allowed to return to the US as soon as possible.” 


RSF has been a steadfast advocate of Austin Tice for many years, leading public advocacy campaigns to ensure his return home remains a top priority for the US federal government. Previously, RSF partnered with The National Press Club and other press freedom organizations to launch the “Night Out for Austin Tice,” an initiative to raise awareness and funds to supplement the $1 million FBI reward for information leading to Austin’s safe return. In 2016, RSF partnered with The Washington Post, The New York Times, USA Today, McClatchy and other media outlets to launch the #FreeAustinTice campaign. Print and digital ads promoting the campaign were run in outlets to raise awareness of Austin Tice’s case across the country.


The United States ranks 44th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2021 World Press Freedom Index and Syria ranks 173rd.