USA: RSF calls for direct negotiations to bring journalist Austin Tice home
On the 10th anniversary of the capture of American journalist Austin Tice, who has been missing ever since, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) urges President Biden to open direct negotiations with the Syrian government for his immediate safe release and return.
Tice, a freelance journalist who had set out to report on Syria’s civil war, was taken prisoner at a checkpoint near Damascus on August 14, 2012. Reports indicate that Tice may still be alive, but so far three presidential administrations have failed to negotiate his release and bring him home.
“Three successive administrations have so far failed to bring Austin Tice home,” said Clayton Weimers, RSF’s US Bureau Director. “It’s long been clear the only way to a solution is through direct negotiations. Allowing Tice to languish in captivity for a decade is an inexcusable and possibly avoidable tragedy, and leaves the door open for further such targeting of American journalists abroad. We thank President Biden for publicly committing to bring Austin home, but now is the time to follow through with direct negotiations.
The summer before his final year at Georgetown Law School, Tice went to Syria to report on the ongoing conflict. His work was published by McClatchy News, The Washington Post, Associated Press, and AFP, and broadcast on CBS, NPR, and BBC. For his courageous reporting, Tice received the 2012 McClatchy Newspapers President’s Award and the 2012 George Polk Award for War Reporting.
In addition to being an award-winning journalist, Tice is a veteran Captain in the Marine Corps, a graduate of Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, an Eagle Scout, and a National Merit Scholar. Tice was abducted at age 31. This August, he turned 41 in captivity.
Tice’s parents, Marc and Debra Tice, have fought tirelessly for his release for the past decade. RSF has worked closely with them since Tice went missing in 2012 to support their campaign to bring him home, and to ensure the U.S. government makes his safe return a priority. Since 2015, RSF has partnered with The Washington Post, The New York Times, USA Today, McClatchy and other media outlets in a campaign to free Tice. This year, to mark the 10th anniversary of Tice’s capture, RSF has also partnered with the Washington Post for the renewed #BringAustinHome campaign.
The United States ranks 42nd and Syria ranks 171st out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2022 World Press Freedom Index.