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An open letter to President Biden from the parents of Austin Tice

The following letter appears in The Washington Post Press Freedom Partnership’s October newsletter:

Dear Mr. President,

August 14 is the date of our son’s abduction; this year it marks nine years of detention in Syria. President Biden, speaking for Austin, our entire family urges you to prioritize Austin’s secure release and safe return to us and to the country he loves.

We believe this can happen with your personal engagement and direct orders. In these early days of your administration, you have clearly messaged that family is at the core of your agenda. So we are asking you to express strong support, issue clear directions, and take meaningful action in a sincere effort to bring Austin safely home. 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. We believe you can do this. For Austin and our family, this is not too much to ask.

In 2012, Austin traveled to Syria to report on the uprising. He was delivering news and images of what he witnessed – working to explain the horrors of urban warfare. He worked for McClatchy News, winning a Polk Award for war reporting. He had several front-page stories in The Washington Post. His work was also carried by the Associated Press, NPR, CBS, BBC, Agence France-Presse and other outlets.

President Biden, you speak often and movingly of the significance of journalism and its value in a democratic society. Austin obviously shares these values with you and is paying a high price for doing this critically important work.

Your administration is uniquely positioned to help Austin. Your White House is staffed with seasoned professionals who know how to make a successful diplomatic approach for Austin. They know what can and must be done now, at this moment. They must build off the breakthroughs that were achieved by the previous administration; continuing direct engagement, relevant dialogue and significant action are crucial for Austin’s release. The time is now. Austin is waiting.

Mr. President, Austin needs you to step out and boldly lead. Please say our son’s name in public. Talk about Austin Tice; let people in Washington and Damascus know you are thinking of him. Put courage in their hearts to do the right thing. We have no doubt your family will support you, and our government will unite behind you.

We would welcome the opportunity for our family to meet with your family. We’d like to tell you more about Austin. A meeting of our loving families would send a strong message across our country and overseas. It would show that you have taken the lead and we are working on this together. Together, we can bring Austin safely home.


Debra and Marc Tice and all the Tice family