The parents of Austin Tice, an American journalist kidnapped in Syria nearly a decade ago, told CNN they received support from President Joe Biden on efforts to bring their son home.
In an interview with Jake Tapper on “The Lead” Tuesday, Marc Tice said Biden told them “he supported the efforts that are underway and other efforts that may create positive movement” to get Austin home.
“One of the efforts underway is pushing to get engagement and engagement that sustained,” between the US and Syria, which do not have diplomatic relations.
“This is something that will probably take some time to make happen, but we have to take those first steps. And the President has indicated he was completely supportive and committed to doing so,” he said.
Debra Tice said she felt progress was made in getting a meeting with Biden the day prior.
“We were astonished at how up to date he was on Austin’s case and how committed his to getting him home,” she said.
Marc Tice said he thought the meeting could be the start of a “real sea change,” because “when the President is behind something, the rest of the system falls in step and makes things happen.”
Austin Tice, a freelance journalist and Marine Corps veteran, was detained at a checkpoint near Damascus in August 2012 while reporting on the war in Syria.
Debra Tice said the family has not received an update on Austin’s condition or whereabouts. Marc Tice added “there are whispers on the wind and we still get contacted by people in Syria that think they might know something, but as far as an actual channel to someone that we know has that information? Doesn’t exist.”
The meeting at the White House Monday happened following the Tices attendance at White House Correspondents’ Dinner over the weekend, where they were recognized by the White House Correspondents Association President.
It also comes ahead of a planned demonstration at the White House Wednesday by a number of families of Americans detained abroad who also hope to secure a meeting with Biden that could lead to their loved ones returning home.
The President “reiterated his commitment to continue to work through all available avenues to secure Austin’s long overdue return to his family,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement Monday.
Biden “further emphasized that his Administration will work relentlessly until Austin and other Americans held hostage and wrongfully detained worldwide are safely at home with their loved ones,” she said.
On Tuesday, in remarks marking World Press Freedom Day, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that “today and every day we think of American journalist Austin Tice, who has been held captive in Syria for nearly 10 years, a quarter of his life.”
“We will continue to pursue every avenue to secure his release,” he said.
CNN’s Maegan Vazquez and Donald Judd contributed to this report.