Mother of journalist held in Syria pleads to speak to him

Austin Tice was taken captive in Syria in August 2012.

Story highlights

  • Freelance journalist Austin Tice disappeared while reporting in Baghdad in 2012
  • His mother is in Lebanon trying to get information on him
  • "We have every reason to believe Austin is alive," his mother says

Beirut, Lebanon (CNN)The mother of Austin Tice, who has been held captive in Syria for over 1,000 days, made an emotional plea in Beirut on Tuesday for information about her son, asking his captors to let him telephone her while she is visiting the Lebanese capital.

Debra Tice, at a press conference organized by Reporters without Borders and the SKeyes Center for Media and Cultural Freedom, said: "Only as a mother, I am here asking for information and for help to find my son and bring him safely home."
Austin Tice, a freelance journalist and former U.S. Marine captain, was taken captive on a reporting trip near Damascus, the Syrian capital, in August 2012.
    Speaking in a country whose population has swollen by over a quarter with refugees from Syria's devastating war, Debra Tice added, "We realize there is unbelievable misery all across the Levant, and that my family's anguish is only a drop in that horrific sea of human suffering. Our hearts are joined with those who are experiencing this terrible pain and loss."
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    She was asked how she would characterize the assistance she has received from the U.S. government in seeking her son's return. Tice said assistance would be an "overstatement" and described the relationship more as "coexistence." The U.S. government has been criticized by the families of other American hostages held in Syria for not pursuing negotiations which might have led to the hostages' release.
    "We know Austin is not being held by any part of the opposition," his mother told reporters. "Still, after all these 1009 days, we do not know where he is nor who is holding him."
    Five weeks after the Texas native disappeared in Damascus, a 43-second video emerged online that showed him in the captivity of what his family describe as an "unusual group of apparent jihadists."
    There has been speculation that he is being held by the Syrian regime or its sympathizers, but Debra Tice refused to be drawn into discussing the specifics of what she knew about her son's whereabouts. The family has appealed to Damascus to assist Washington in securing his release.
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    "We have every reason to believe Austin is alive," Debra Tice said. "... Recently, the U.S. State Department issued a statement saying they are in 'periodic direct contact' with the Syrian government regarding consular affairs, including Austin's situation. We think this is a good start. We are glad that the two governments are communicating directly, but more is needed."
    She said an intermediary in Lebanon might also help talk to anyone who had information about Tice's captivity.
    Tice is thought to be the last American held captive in Syria. Aid worker Peter Kassig and journalists Steven Sotloff and James Foley were brutally killed by ISIS, while aid worker Kayla Mueller was said to have died in ISIS' captivity.