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#FreeAustinTice: Seven years later journalist is still unaccounted for in Syria
REPORTERS Without Borders have raised another call for the release of Austin Tice an American journalist who was abducted seven years ago in Syria.
The former veteran United State Corp before his abduction in Damascus freelanced for McClatchy News, the Washington Post, Associated Press, AFP, and broadcast on CBS, NPR, and BBC.
Tice was among the lead journalist to venture into the war-stricken zone to report factually on the war events.
In May of 2012, the summer before Austin’s final year at Georgetown Law School, he chose to go to Syria as a freelance journalist. Austin went to tell the story of the ongoing conflict there and its impact on the ordinary people of Syria.
“He was hearing reports from Syria saying this is happening and that is happening but it can’t be confirmed because there really are no reporters on the ground. And he said, ‘You know, this is a story that the world needs to know about,” his father said.
In August 2012, Austin reportedly made his way just south of Damascus to write his final pieces. He planned to depart for Lebanon on August 14, three days after his 31st birthday.
Boarding a car in the Damascus suburb of Darayya to make the trip, he was detained at a checkpoint and have not been seen ever since.
However, five weeks later, a 43-second video emerged with the title, “Austin Tice is Alive”. It showed Austin being held by a group of unidentified armed men.
“No other message accompanied the video. This is the only information we have received from his captors. No one has contacted us to claim responsibility, nor have we been told what is required to secure his safe release,” the parent of the journalist lamented.
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) in February 2015 had earlier launched a pro bono #freeaustintice campaign.
With little or no information on the way about of Tice, the Federal Bureau for Intelligence (FBI) in April 2018 placed a $1,000,000 rewards for information regarding Tice’s whereabout after a previous effort to facilitate the release of the journalist through Russia playing a middleman between the US and Syria did not yield positive fruit.
With no reports on Tice, US officials still believe he is alive and being held by the Syrian government or allies.
Tice reporting in 2012 was recognized with the 2012 George Polk Award for War Reporting and the 2012 McClatchy Newspapers President’s Award, among others.