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
ebooksNow available in paperback
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: Web Developer - Junior / Mid Weight

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To support their continued grow...

Recruitment Genius: Marketing Data Specialist

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are the go-to company for ...

Recruitment Genius: Search Marketing Specialist - PPC / SEO

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join the UK's leadin...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This caravan dealership are currently recruiti...

Day In a Page

Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test
Tour de France 2015: Twins Simon and Adam Yates have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

Twins have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

Yates brothers will target the steepest sections in bid to win a stage in France
John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

Forget little green men

Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

Dying dream of Doctor Death

Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy