A bipartisan letter was sent today to President Joe Biden, signed by 44 Senators (nearly half of the Senate) and 36 Representatives, asking him to work urgently toward the safe return of veteran U.S. Marine Corps captain and award-winning journalist Austin Tice, who has been held in Syria since August 14, 2012.
Austin, a Georgetown graduate and law student, was detained near Damascus three days after his 31st birthday while covering escalating conflict in the region. The U.S. government believes he is alive and being held by an affiliate of the Syrian government.
The letter was part of a new #FreeAustinTice campaign, led by the National Press Club Journalism Institute in partnership with McClatchy and other organizations. The grassroots initiative saw 1,601 members of the public and 592 members of the Georgetown community contact their elected representatives, asking them to sign the letter urging the president to make Austin’s safe return a priority.
In September 2019, the Institute coordinated dozens of volunteers who canvassed the offices of every sitting member of Congress, asking them to sign a letter to the president and raising awareness of Austin’s situation. Later that month, 173 of those lawmakers signed a letter to President Trump on Austin’s behalf.
Austin will be featured on World Press Freedom Day, May 3, at a National Press Club event. Austin’s niece Maia, who just turned 11, will share memories of her uncle and update eventgoers on how she’s advocated for him in her neighborhood and school. Maia will be interviewed by National Press Club President Lisa Matthews.