Family of missing journalist Austin Tice pleads for information

 

Beirut

The parents of an American journalist who has been missing for three months in Syria made a heartfelt appeal for information about his whereabouts Monday and called on any group that may be holding him to release him unharmed.

Marc and Debra Tice said at a news conference here in the Lebanese capital that they have received little news about their son Austin, 31, since he disappeared near the Damascus suburb of Darayya on Aug. 13.

"We really have no idea who is holding our son, and that is our main purpose, to try to make contact with our son," said Debra Tice, who had traveled to Beirut from the family's home in Houston. "To try to make contact and bring him home."

Tice, a former U.S. Marine, had been working as a freelance journalist and contributing articles to The Washington Post, McClatchy Newspapers and other news outlets after crossing the border from Turkey into Syria in May.

In a Facebook post, he defended his decision to take on such a dangerous assignment.

"No, I don't have a death wish — I have a life wish. So I'm living, in a place, at a time and with a people where life means more than anywhere I've ever been — because every single day people here lay down their own for the sake of others," he wrote in an essay posted in late July. "Coming here to Syria is the greatest thing I've ever done, and it's the greatest feeling of my life."

One of the few clues that has emerged about Tice, who is the oldest of seven siblings, is a short video that was posted on YouTube in late September. A handful of men carrying assault rifles and a rocket-propelled grenade launcher are shown leading a blindfolded Tice through a remote, mountainous area.

The men chant as they push Tice up a hillside and he pleads, "Oh, Jesus, oh, Jesus," before the video cuts.

Some experts have speculated that the video is a fake created by the Syrian government to give the impression that he is being held by Islamists. The State Department has said that it believes Tice is being held by the Syrian government.

In the news conference Monday, Marc Tice said the family had reached out to Syrian authorities for information.

"We have been in touch directly and indirectly with people in the Syrian government," Marc Tice said. "They have indicated to us they don't know where Austin is. And we are reaching out to everyone that we can get in touch with to try to get their help in determining where Austin is and what we need to do to bring him home."

Debra Tice said Monday that the holidays will be tough for the family if her son is not released soon.

"With the approaching holiday season, we are even more dismayed by the empty chair at our family table," she said. "We miss Austin's knowing smile, his big laugh and his great storytelling. The energetic joy in our home has been greatly diminished by his absence."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
The guide, since withdrawn, used illustrations and text to help people understand the court process (Getty)
newsMinistry of Justice gets law 'terribly wrong' in its guide to courts
News
Bobbi Kristina Brown with her mother Whitney Houston in 2011
people
News
Starting the day with a three-egg omelette could make people more charitable, according to new research
scienceFeed someone a big omelette, and they may give twice as much, thanks to a compound in the eggs
News
Top Gun actor Val Kilmer lost his small claims court battle in Van Nuys with the landlord of his Malibu mansion to get back his deposit after wallpapering over the kitchen cabinets
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
News
The actress Geraldine McEwan was perhaps best known for playing Agatha Christie's detective, Miss Marple (Rex)
peopleShe won a Bafta in 1991 for her role in Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit
News
newsPatrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
News
Robert Fraser, aka Groovy Bob
peopleA new show honours Robert Fraser, one of the era's forgotten players
Life and Style
Torsten Sherwood's Noook is a simple construction toy for creating mini-architecture
tech
Sport
David Silva celebrates with Sergio Aguero after equalising against Chelsea
footballChelsea 1 Manchester City 1
News
i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Online Media Sales Trainee

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Now our rapidly expanding and A...

Recruitment Genius: Public House Manager / Management Couples

£15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about great ...

Recruitment Genius: Production Planner

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Recruitment Genius: General Factory Operatives

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Day In a Page

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

Dame Harriet Walter interview

The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links