The parents of Austin Tice (SFS ’02) wrote an open letter to President Joe Biden on Oct. 3, calling on his administration to prioritize Tice’s safe return to the United States.
Tice, who has been missing since August 2012, was kidnapped while covering the Syrian civil war, the summer after completing his second year at Georgetown University Law Center. Over a month after his disappearance in Darayya, a video published anonymously showed Tice blindfolded and surrounded by armed and masked men. While the Biden administration believes Tice is alive, no presidential administration has been able to bring him home.
Debra and Marc Tice, Tice’s parents, published their open letter in The Washington Post on Oct. 3, specifically calling on Biden to engage diplomats and other U.S. State Department officials in an effort to help secure Tice’s release and return to the United States.
The Biden administration should prioritize Tice’s release because it has emphasized family protections and values, according to the Tices’ letter.
“In these early days of your administration, you have clearly messaged that family is at the core of your agenda,” the letter reads. “We believe that if Austin were a member of your family, all the Bidens would rally around and come together to bring him home. On Austin’s behalf, because you are president of the country he honorably served as a Marine Corps officer, we are asking you for that kind of all-in effort.”
The Tice family hopes that continued activism will ultimately help secure Austin Tice’s safe return to the United States, according to Debra Tice.
“We continue to relentlessly advocate for Austin’s secure release and safe return. We hope and pray he will soon walk free,” Tice wrote in an email to The Hoya.
Georgetown continues to support the Tice family’s calls for action from the Biden administration, according to Joel Hellman, dean of the School of Foreign Service.
“We at SFS stand with the Tice family in urging the U.S. Government to do everything within its power to bring Austin home,” Hellman wrote in an email to The Hoya. “His commitment to risk everything in order to expose the suffering of the Syrian people represents the true spirit of Georgetown.”
The Georgetown community has remained active in calling for Tice’s release. Georgetown community members sent letters to congressional representatives in April 2021, urging their representatives to call on the Biden administration to prioritize Tice’s return.
Tice is also important to journalists around the world, according to Doyle McManus, director of Georgetown’s journalism department.
“Austin Tice is important to the journalistic community, Austin Tice is important to the Georgetown community, and Austin Tice, at the end of the day, is important to all of us,” McManus said in a phone interview with The Hoya. “He was a journalist carrying out the search for truth, and it’s vitally important that the U.S. government do what it can to protect people who do that, or fewer and fewer people will ever be able to do that again.”
Despite activism for Tice’s return, Tice’s parents have expressed frustration over a lack of action taken to secure his release, according to a statement released Aug. 11, Tice’s 40th birthday.
The U.S. government continues to commit resources to helping secure Tice’s release from Syria, according to a U.S. official.
“We continue to emphasize that Austin’s release and return home are long overdue,” the official wrote in an email to The Hoya. “The Biden administration continues to call on Syria to help release Austin Tice and every American unjustly detained in Syria.”
The Department of State will continue to pursue all options, including actively engaging with Syrian officials, and aims to communicate directly with any people or organizations that can help Tice’s return, according to the official.
“We are committed to following all avenues, including engagement with anyone who can help with Austin’s release and return home,” the official wrote. “We have been and remain open to direct communication with anyone who can help us bring Austin and other American hostages home.”
The Georgetown and journalistic communities should still maintain involvement in the campaign to free Tice, according to McManus.
“The rest of us who are journalists or anyone else engaged in the search for truth owes a great deal to Austin Tice,” McManus said. “The very minimum that we owe to Austin Tice is to exert whatever effort we can to help get him released.”