Freelance journalist Austin Tice is being held by the Syrian government, McClatchy Newspapers and the Washington Post said. The former Marine captain went missing in Syria as one of the few foreign reporters covering the Syrian civil war. (LinkedIn)
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Former Marine and freelance journalist Austin Tice is likely being held in custody by the Syrian government, according to McClatchy Newspapers and The Washington Post.
Tice, 31, a former Marine captain who left the Corps early this year, was one of the few foreign journalists reporting about the Syrian civil war from inside the country. Friends, family and colleagues have not heard from him since Aug. 11.
Tice filed reports for various media outlets, including McClatchy, the Post and Al Jazeera English, the international television news channel.
"If he is in fact being held by the Syrian government, we would expect that he is being well cared for and that he will quickly be released," said Anders Gyllenhaal, McClatchy vice president for news, in a statement posted to the McClatchy website.
Marcus Brauchli, executive editor of The Washington Post, also issued a statement Thursday: "If the reports are true, we urge these authorities to release him promptly, unharmed. Journalists should never be detained for doing their work, even — and especially — in difficult circumstances."
According to McClatchy, several foreigners aside from Tice are believed to be in Syrian custody.
Both media outlets report that the Syrian government had not responded to official inquires about Tice as of Thursday afternoon.
According to a State Department official, the U.S. is working through the embassy of the Czech Republic to get more information on the welfare and condition of Tice.
On Tuesday, Mark Seibel, McClatchy's chief of correspondents, told Marine Corps Times that Tice's work was "excellent" and that his military background gave him a unique perspective — he could understand what he was seeing on the ground in Syria, which has experienced months of fighting between government troops and rebel forces.
Tice arrived in Syria in May and had been reporting from Damascus since late July. Like other foreign journalists, he was inside the border without a visa.
According to his LinkedIn profile, Tice left the Corps in January after serving for seven years, including combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. During his military career he served as a joint terminal attack controller and as an infantry platoon and company commander.
He studied international politics at Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service from 1999 to 2002 before entering the Marine Corps and is currently studying law at Georgetown, according to his profile.
In a July posting on Facebook, Tice urged his followers to stop cautioning him to be safe in the midst of the violence and explained his desire to report inside Syria.
"Every person in this country fighting for their freedom wakes up every day and goes to sleep every night with the knowledge that death could visit them at any moment," he wrote, "I don't have a death wish — I have a life wish. So I'm living, in a place, at a time and with a people, where life means more than anywhere I've ever been — because every single day people here lay down their own for the sake of others. Coming here to Syria is the greatest thing I've ever done, and it's the greatest feeling of my life."