May 19, 2015 - Updated on January 20, 2016

Journalist’s mother asks his abductors to let him speak to her

Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Christophe Deloire, Ayman Mhanna, executive director of the SKeyes Center for press freedom and culture, and Debra Tice, the mother of kidnapped US journalist Austin Tice, gave a news conference at the Press Club in Beirut today at which they called for him to be released “as quickly as possible.” A hostage in Syria since 14 August 2012, Austin Tice completed his 1,000th day in captivity last week. Invoking UN Security Council Resolution 1738 of 2006 on the protection of journalists and Security Council Resolution 2319 of 2014 demanding the release of all persons held arbitrarily in Syria, Deloire and Debra Tice appealed for active support from all governments that claim to defend media freedom. Debra Tice said she had “every reason to think” her son was still alive and addressed questions to those who have information about him, especially those holding him. “Can my son be allowed these days to communicate with me - by phone while I am in Beirut?”, she asked. And then she asked: “Are the holders of my son ready to meet face to face with "one" individual (alone) and let him meet with my son, a friend of the family, and known by some Shiite leaders in Lebanon and beyond over years?” Deloire urged the US government to have more than “periodic direct contacts” with the Syrian authorities about the Austin Tice case and called for an “intense and concerted” effort. He referred to the hopes raised by President Barack Obama’s revision of US “hostage policy” and to the #Freeaustintice campaign that Reporters Without Borders launched in the United States in February with the support of 300 newspapers.The Syrian government denies holding Austin, but we hope it will do everything it can to bring him back safe and sound,” Deloire added. SKeyes executive director, Ayman Mhanna, asked for the support of all individuals and institutions in the region that can provide information on Austin’s situation and contribute to his release. The National Press Club announced last month that it is awarding its 2015 Press Freedom Award to Tice, who was freelancing for The Washington Post, McClatchy, NPR, CBS and the BBC at the time of his abduction. His reporting was awarded the 2012 George Polk Award for War Reporting and the 2012 McClatchy Newspapers President’s Award.