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10 years after Austin Tice vanished in Syria, his family continues its fight for him

American journalist Austin Tice (portrait at left) was abducted in Syria in 2012. Here, his parents, Debra and Marc Tice, give a news conference in Beirut in 2018.
Joseph Eid
/
AFP via Getty Images
American journalist Austin Tice (portrait at left) was abducted in Syria in 2012. Here, his parents, Debra and Marc Tice, give a news conference in Beirut in 2018.

This Sunday marks the tenth anniversary of the disappearance of American journalist Austin Tice. He is believed to have been kidnapped in a suburb of Damascus, Syria, in 2012.

"He is in Syria. That is a certainty," Tice's mother, Debra Tice, said of the intelligence she is aware of. "He's definitely being held with a government-related entity." She spoke to All Things Considered this past week about her yearslong effort to free her son, who is also a Marine Corps veteran.

Austin Tice's mother said her son was in Syria to report on the country's civil war at the time in order "to show the world the real cost of war," she said.

The world last saw a glimpse of Tice in a 46-second video posted on YouTube in September 2012.

In it, the freelance journalist appears in torn clothing, is blindfolded and is being led by masked men with guns. The men are chanting, "God is greatest."

Tice is recorded reciting a common Islamic phrase in Arabic, his head bowed in distress. He cries out, "Oh Jesus, oh Jesus" just before the video clip ends.

The video at the time suggested that Tice, then 31, was seized by Islamic extremists.

The U.S. government has since publicly confirmed that Tice has been held by the Syrian government.

"We have repeatedly asked the government of Syria to work with us so that we can bring Austin home," President Biden said in a statement this past week. "On the tenth anniversary of his abduction, I am calling on Syria to end this and help us bring him home."

Marc and Debra Tice, parents of American journalist Austin Tice, who was kidnapped in Syria in 2012, hold portraits of him during a news conference in Beirut in 2017.
Joseph Eid / AFP via Getty Images
/
AFP via Getty Images
Marc and Debra Tice, parents of American journalist Austin Tice, who was kidnapped in Syria in 2012, hold portraits of him during a news conference in Beirut in 2017.

The Syrian government has never acknowledged having Tice in custody.

The Tice family continues to push the White House to do more to negotiate with the Syrian government.

"It's gonna take three things: engagement and negotiation and confession. Those are always going to be an intrinsic part of any kidnapping, any hostage-taking," she told NPR. "And the United States government has not been willing to engage directly with the Syrian government. And until that happens, nothing else can happen."

The Tice family has now called on three administrations, including that of former Presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump, to negotiate with the Syrian government for their son's release.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.