News

October 27, 2016

Reporters Without Borders and the Newseum unveil banner for Austin Tice, only American journalist captive in Syria


Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and the Newseum in Washington, D.C., are proud to announce the unveil of a banner for Austin Tice on the Newseum’s façade on November 2, the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists. The banner will feature a photo of Austin Tice with the message “Held captive for being a journalist since August 2012.” Austin Tice is the only American journalist captive in Syria, according to RSF and other sources. The banner will remain in place until he is safely returned home to his family.

This is the first time a major American institution such as the Newseum will display a public banner on its building for a missing American journalist. This banner will offer an unprecedented opportunity to heighten public awareness about Austin Tice, as the Newseum is located on historic Pennsylvania Avenue, which connects the White House and the United States Capitol.


“As defenders of the First Amendment and free expression, the Newseum is committed to doing everything we can help bring Austin Tice home safely to his family,” said Jeffrey Herbst, president and CEO of the Newseum. “We hope this banner, prominently displayed on Pennsylvania Avenue in front of citizens and lawmakers alike, will raise awareness of his captivity and bring him one step closer to home.”


As November 2 is the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists, and as President Barack Obama will soon leave the White House, this timely banner will serve as a very clear reminder to the President that Austin’s safe return home must be a priority during his final days in office,” said Delphine Halgand, RSF’s U.S. director. “Time is of the essence for him to do everything in his power to make this happen.”


“With tremendous admiration and respect we are deeply grateful to the Newseum for taking this important and unprecedented action. At this critical moment in history, when press freedom is under attack on so many fronts and journalists face greater dangers than ever before, displaying this banner sends a powerful message of steadfast support for American journalists. We also appreciate the tireless work of Reporters Without Borders and other organizations dedicated to the support, education, and protection of journalists. In its prominent position on ‘America’s Main Street,’ this banner is intended to remind the President of his obligation to secure Austin’s safe return. It will also remind all who see it of the very real risks journalists take to ensure the basic human right to freedom of information, opinion, and expression.”

— Debra and Marc Tice, parents of Austin Tice


The banner will be officially unveiled on Nov. 2, 2016 at noon EST at the Newseum (555 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20001).

Speakers will include:

- Debra Tice, Austin Tice’s mother

- Jeffrey Herbst, Newseum President and CEO

- Delphine Halgand, RSF U.S. Director

Journalists interested in attending should RSVP to [email protected].


Austin Tice went to Syria in 2012 as a freelance journalist to report on the conflict there. His work has been published by McClatchy Co., The Washington Post, The Associated Press, AFP, CBS, NPR and BBC. His reporting earned the 2012 George Polk Award for War Reporting, the 2012 McClatchy President’s Award and the 2015 National Press Club John Aubuchon Press Freedom Award. On Aug. 14, 2012, three days after his 31st birthday, Austin Tice was taken captive as he was preparing to travel from Daraya, near Damascus, Syria, to Beirut, Lebanon. He is alive and he is not being held by ISIS, according to diverse credible sources.


Take part in the #FreeAustinTice campaign


Anyone can take part in the #FreeAustinTice campaign by signing the petition addressed to President Obama and by taking the Blindfold Pledge, a symbol of Austin’s kidnapping. The blindfold symbolizes the fact that when journalists are silenced, we are all deprived of information, and as such, “blindfolded.”


To participate, individuals can take photos of themselves blindfolded and share the following calls to action on their social channels:

Facebook/Instagram: I take the Blindfold Pledge to raise awareness of the 2012 kidnapping of the American journalist Austin Tice. This is a plea to the U.S. government to bring Austin home. I call on _____ to also take the pledge.#FreeAustinTice

Twitter: I wear the blindfold to #FreeAustinTice. I call on ____ to also take the pledge.

Twitter: The American journalist Austin Tice disappeared in Syria in 2012. Help us to bring him safely home. Sign the petition #FreeAustinTice.


About the Newseum


The Newseum is dedicated to free expression and the five freedoms of the First Amendment: religion, speech, press, assembly and petition. Headquartered on historic Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C., the Newseum’s compelling, dynamic and engaging exhibits, programs and education initiatives help ensure that these fundamental freedoms remain strong and protected both today and for future generations. The Newseum Institute promotes the study, exploration and education of the challenges confronting freedom through its First Amendment Center and the Religious Freedom Center. The Newseum is a 501(c)(3) public charity funded by generous individuals, corporations and foundations, including the Freedom Forum. For more information, visit newseum.org and follow us on Facebook, Twitterand Instagram.


About Reporters Without Borders (RSF)


Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has become the largest press freedom organization in the world, with more than 30 years of accomplishments. Thanks to its unique grassroots network of 150 local correspondents investigating in 130 countries, 12 national offices and a consultative status at the U.N. and UNESCO, RSF is able to have a global impact, gather on-the-ground information, conduct major advocacy campaigns, and assist and defend news providers all across the world.


Since August 2012, RSF has been assisting and advising Austin Tice’s family. In 2015 RSF launched the#FreeAustinTice campaign, with the support of more than 260 U.S. news organizations, including McClatchy Co., The Washington Post, The New York Times and USA Today.


RSF recently launched the Fund to Support Families of American Journalists Missing, Imprisoned or Held Hostage. The Fund’s primary purpose is to provide financial assistance to the relatives and colleagues of missing American journalists in their efforts to secure the safe return and/or release of such journalists, including reasonable travel, communication and legal expenses.