President Joe Biden met Monday with the parents of veteran Marine captain who was working as a freelance journalist when captured in Syria in 2012.
“During their meeting, the President reiterated his commitment to continue to work through all available avenues to secure Austin’s long overdue return to his family,” the Hill reported.
The Tice family did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Marine Corps Times on Tuesday.
Debra Tice was introduced Saturday night as being in attendance at the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner, where Biden paid tribute in his remarks to journalists who are missing or detained. Biden also said at the event that he wanted to meet with the Tices to speak about their son.
Renewed attention to Tice’s case has come following the return of Marine veteran Trevor Reed, 30, who had been held in Russia in a prisoner exchange in recent weeks.
Reed had been detained by Russian officials while visiting the country in 2017. He later was convicted based on evidence U.S. Ambassador John Sullivan called “laughable” after allegedly assaulting Russian police officers following a night of drinking.
Tice had been taken shortly before ending a reporting trip to Syria on Aug.14, 2012.
Forty-three seconds of video footage of a blindfolded Tice emerged five weeks later. And as recently as 2018 state department officials made public announcements that they believed Tice was still alive and being held.
In 2021, experts with firsthand knowledge of the case who were not cleared to discuss details publicly told Marine Corps Times there was evidence that Tice was still alive.
Through the administrations of President Barack Obama, President Donald Trump and now Biden, the Tice family has sought for more work, information and negotiations for their son’s release.
In mid-April, Axios reported that State Department hostage envoy Roger Carstens sought help from Israel in locating Tice.
Specifically, Carstens reportedly asked the Israeli intelligence services monitor information out of Syria more closely and share both intelligence gathered and ideas on pushing forward with the case.
In March 2020, Trump had called on Syria publicly to release Tice.
He had sent administration officials to Syria in the summer of 2020 to negotiate for Tice’s release, according to reports.
Those talks did not proceed. Syrian officials had said no talks would continue as long as U.S. troops remained in Syria.
Despite those public pleas, the Tice family learned in mid-2020, through an excerpt in the book, “The Room Where it Happened,” by former National Security Adviser John Bolton, that not everyone was on board with the idea of prioritizing finding their son.
Bolton had claimed in the book that Trump repeatedly had pushed for hostage exchanges, but both Bolton and then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had seen it as “undesirable” for policy goals — chiefly their aim, in early 2019, to keep a certain level of U.S. troops in Syria.
In a 2020 interview with Marine Corps Times, Debra Tice had said she was “shocked” when she had read that, nearly eight years after her son had been captured. It now has been nearly a decade.
Tice had been on a summer break from Georgetown Law School when he had traveled to Syria to report for various outlets.
The former Marine captain had reported for the Washington Post, McClatchy and CBS News. He had received the 2012 George Polk Award for War Reporting and the McClatchy Newspaper President’s Award in 2012.
The National Press Club had named him the John Aubuchon Freedom of the Press Award winner in 2015. The 2022 Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy had honored Tice for his war reporting and excellence in leadership.
Experts such as Robert Saale, former FBI Hostage Recovery Fusion Cell director, previously had told Marine Corps Times that the nature of the continued civil war in Syria, a range of disparate terrorist groups and U.S. involvement in the Syrian conflict all had hindered efforts to locate and return Tice.
Tice served in the military from 2005–2015, when his reserve obligation expired. He was promoted to captain in 2009, according to official records.
He had deployed twice to Iraq and once to Afghanistan; his final deployment in service was in 2011. While in Syria in 2012, Tice was in reserve status as his obligation concluded but he was not serving in the military.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.
Todd South has written about crime, courts, government and the military for multiple publications since 2004 and was named a 2014 Pulitzer finalist for a co-written project on witness intimidation. Todd is a Marine veteran of the Iraq War.