American freelance journalist Austin Tice’s last post on Twitter was Aug. 11, 2012. It was his 31st birthday and he was spending it with Free Syrian Army soldiers, the rebel forces he had been following as a war reporter since that May. Two days later, as he got ready to leave Syria for Lebanon, he vanished. He has been missing ever since.
U.S. officials say they believe Tice, a graduate of Georgetown and a U.S. Marine Corps veteran, is being held by the Syrian government or its allies. The only record of his kidnapping is a 47-second video, posted anonymously about a month after his disappearance. It shows him blindfolded being led through scrub brush and rocks by unidentified gunmen. He has the grim distinction of being the only U.S. journalist held captive abroad.
His Syria coverage – published by the Washington Post, McClatchy newspapers and others – won the 2012 George Polk Award for War Reporting and the 2012 McClatchy Newspapers President’s Award. In 2015 the National Press Club honored Tice with its John Aubuchon Press Freedom Award.
The National Press Club and its partners in the Free Austin Tice Coalition have worked to raise awareness about Tice’s extended disappearance and to help build a reward fund for actionable information. On May 2, 2019, the eve of World Press Freedom Day, the National Press Club led the coalition in a “Night Out For Austin Tice” campaign. On that day, restaurants across the U.S. drew attention to Tice’s disappearance and pledged a percentage of their proceeds for the fund.
Members of the coalition include The Washington Post, McClatchy, Reporters Without Borders, and Georgetown University. We will not rest until he is free.