austin-tice

Meet freelance journalist Austin Tice. Tice, a Georgetown Law student whose reporting work has shown up in the Washington Post and McClatchy Newspapers over the summer, has been missing for more than two weeks, according to the Post. But now diplomatic sources believe that he’s been captured by the Syrian government in the outskirts of Damascus. The Syrian government has not confirmed the reports, but multiple sources have corroborated the report. 

It’s nice and all, but please quit telling me to be safe.
— 

In a July Facebook post, freelance journalist Austin Tice explained to friends why he was going to Syria to report on the civil war. In large part it was to feel “alive”:

So that’s why I came here to Syria, and it’s why I like being here now, right now, right in the middle of a brutal and still uncertain civil war. 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. They accept that reality as the price of freedom. They realize there are things worth fighting for, and instead of sitting around wringing their hands about it, or asking their lawyer to file an injunction about it, they’re out there just doing it. And yeah most of them have little idea what they’re doing when they pick up a rifle, and yes there are many other things I could complain about, but really who cares. They’re alive in a way that almost no Americans today even know how to be. They live with greater passion and dream with greater ambition because they are not afraid of death.

Unfortunately, the Washington Post reports that Tice has not been heard from and his current whereabouts are unknown:

The family of Austin Tice, an American freelance journalist who has been reporting from Syria for The Washington Post and other news organizations, said Thursday that it has not heard from him for more than a week and is concerned for his welfare.

Tice, 31, a Georgetown University law student who previously served as an infantry officer in the Marine Corps, reported from Syria this summer. His work, which has been published by The Post, McClatchy Newspapers and other outlets, has offered vivid and insightful accounts of the civil war.

After entering Syria across the Turkish border in May, Tice spent time with rebel fighters in the north. He traveled to Damascus in late July, becoming one of the few Western journalists reporting from the capital. Tice intended to leave Syria in mid-August. Family members and editors who have worked with Tice have not heard from him since then.

Austin Tice, Journalist Missing in Syria, Shown Alive in Video.

The McClatchy report is here. The video answers one question, but raises many more. No matter the answers to those questions, two senior executives at news organizations that published Austin’s work put the issues straight.

“Austin Tice is a journalist, risking his life to tell the story of what’s happening in Syria to the rest of the world,” McClatchy Vice President for News Anders Gyllenhaal said in a statement. “We ask in the strongest possible terms for his immediate release.”

“We call on those who are holding Austin to release him promptly, unharmed,” Marcus Brauchili, executive editor of The Washington Post, said in a statement. “Austin is a journalist who was doing his job. He should be allowed to return to his family.”

ABOUT THE PHOTOGRAPH

Screen grab from video published by McClatchy. Today.

So that’s why I came here to Syria, and it’s why I like being here now, right now, right in the middle of a brutal and still uncertain civil war. 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. They accept that reality as the price of freedom. They realize there are things worth fighting for, and instead of sitting around wringing their hands about it, or asking their lawyer to file an injunction about it, they’re out there just doing it. And yeah most of them have little idea what they’re doing when they pick up a rifle, and yes there are many other things I could complain about, but really who cares. They’re alive in a way that almost no Americans today even know how to be. They live with greater passion and dream with greater ambition because they are not afraid of death.
—  Austin Tice posted this on his Facebook on July 25th. He’s been covering the Syrian Civil War, and has been missing for a week. 
We know who is not holding him. We know that he’s not being held by ISIS or the terrorists of any kind. The Syrian government denies holding him. So that leaves us wondering who is holding him.
—  Debra Tice, mother of Austin Tice, the last known American reporter being held captive in Syria. Watch her interview on Democracy Now! today.
washingtonpost.com
Possible video of missing U.S. journalist Austin Tice emerges

Video footage has emerged showing U.S. freelance journalist Austin Tice being held by a group of masked men toting assault rifles in the first direct evidence of his condition since his disappearance in mid-August.

The 47-second video clip was posted onto YouTube on Sept. 26 and came to light on Monday after it appeared on a Facebook page associated with supporters of the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. It is the first to show Tice since he disappeared while reporting on Syria’s civil war. Tice contributed stories to multiple news outlets, including The Washington Post and McClatchy.

The video opens with shaky footage of a convoy of three vehicles moving through scrubby mountain terrain, before cutting to a small knot of armed men, faces obscured, leading Tice up a mountain path while calling “Allahu al-Akbar,” or “God is great.”

A blindfolded Tice is then pushed to his knees and filmed speaking a partially indecipherable prayer in Arabic. Tice, visibly distressed, cries out “Oh Jesus, oh Jesus” in English, before reverting to Arabic, seconds before the footage is cut.

An important development regarding the disappearance of Austin Tice, the American freelance journalist who went missing while reporting on the Syrian uprising in August.

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Listen to the fucking queen, reblog this vid to spread awareness, and do what you can to help bring Austin Tice home!

The parents of Austin Tice, a former Marine and freelance journalist kidnapped in Syria in 2012, have launched a campaign for his release.

Marc and Debra Tice say they’ve received little assistance from the Syrian and U.S. governments and they’re critical of the U.S. hostage negotiation process.

The Tice family is not in touch with Austin’s captors and they don’t know who’s holding him. A YouTube video shows him blindfolded and led by masked med through a countryside.

Here’s part of what Marc Tice told us:

“We’re not asking for a new agency; we’re not asking for a change in national security policy. The fact of the matter is the State Department, the FBI, the intelligence services, they all have resources to deal with problems of Americans overseas, hostages, kidnappings – all those sorts of things. What we’re really hoping for through this policy review is that those resources start working together efficiently and talking to people in different agencies. There’s a recognition, you know, within the government, that the guidelines aren’t there, the accountability’s not there, the direction’s not there. We’re not looking for something new, we’re just looking for something to make the resources that already exist work well.”

Read/hear the full interview with Marc and Debra Tice.

Image via freeaustintice.rsf.org

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Parents of Kidnapped U.S. Journalist Austin Tice on Their Struggle to Free Son from Syria Captivity

Austin’s parents, Debra and Marc Tice, join us to discuss the ongoing effort to win their son’s release. We also speak to Delphine Halgand, U.S. director of Reporters Without Borders, which has has launched a public awareness campaign for Austin’s release.–Democracy Now!

Missing reporter to be awarded press freedom prize

Austin Tice, a McClatchy reporter who has been detained in Syria since 2012, will receive the National Press Club’s John Aubuchon Press Freedom Award, the club announced on Thursday. The award “recognizes those whose work has demonstrated the courage that lies at the heart of a free press,” the National Press Club said in a statement. It will present the award at its annual awards dinner on July 29. “Austin Tice embodies the best of our profession, and whoever is jailing him represents the worst of the many threats to journalism,” club president John Hughes said. “In giving this award, we want to particularly make sure the world remembers Tice and the other freelancers who often work in dangerous places without adequate support and protection.” Hughes announced the award during a program held at the club to discuss baseline standards for protecting freelance journalists in war zones. Groups participating were the club’s Journalism Institute, the Investigative Reporting Workshop and the Committee to Protect Journalists. 

Read more here.

A Message from the Parents of Austin Tice.

Austin has been missing in Syria now for almost two months.

Understanding the many current demands on its ‎resources,‎ we‎ nonetheless‎ ask ‎the‎ Syrian ‎government ‎to‎ determine ‎Austin’s ‎whereabouts, ‎establish‎ that he is well, and do all in its power to expedite his return to us. We implore whoever is holding Austin to keep him safe, care for his needs and return him to our family quickly. Having contact with Austin would mean the world to us. We request that Austin be allowed to call our home as soon as possible. Without Austin our family is incomplete. We will be profoundly grateful to any and all who assist‎ in ‎making ‎our ‎family ‎whole again.

The recent video purporting to show Austin in the rough custody of jihadists has been widely viewed as a staged production that is not attributable to jihadists. The State Department has repeatedly said it believes that Austin is in the custody of the Syrian state.

Read the full text on McClatchy’s site.

Other journalists are missing in Syria, and uncountable Syrians are missing as well, in a war that has continued to escalate. Often the publicly available characterizations about them appear to be contrived.

ABOUT THE PHOTOGRAPH

Austin, from the Twitter feed of his mother, @DebraTice, who wrote, when she posted this image six weeks after he had been missing, “Time is now measured by Tuesdays. 6 silent Tuesdays. My Tuesday child @Austin_Tice is full of grace.”

We kill ourselves every day with McDonald’s and alcohol and a thousand other drugs, but we’ve lost the sense that there actually are things out there worth dying for. We’ve given away our freedoms piecemeal to robber barons, but we’re too complacent to do much but criticize those few who try to point out the obvious. Americans have lost their sense of vision, mistaking asinine partisan squabbles for principles.

[ … ]

So that’s why I came here to Syria, and it’s why I like being here now, right now, right in the middle of a brutal and still uncertain civil war. 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. They accept that reality as the price of freedom. They realize there are things worth fighting for, and instead of sitting around wringing their hands about it, or asking their lawyer to file an injunction about it, they’re out there just doing it.

— 

Journalist Austin Tice, who contributed to the Washington Post, is currently missing in Syria. (via WashPo)

Doesn’t it sound like the words of a Marine?

Analysts Say Video of American Held in #Syria May Have Been Staged

02/10/12

By ROBERT MACKEY



Analysts have questioned the authenticity of video posted on YouTube last week, apparently showing the American reporter Austin Tice in the hands of Islamist fighters in Syria.

Last Updated | Tuesday, 7:12 a.m. As my colleague David Kirkpatrick reports, video posted on YouTube five days ago, apparently showing a missing American journalist in the hands of jihadist captors in Syria, may have been staged to discredit the armed opposition to the Syrian government, according to several analysts who viewed the clip on Monday.

The reporter, Austin Tice, left the United States Marine Corps last year and has been contributing freelance articles to two American newspaper companies, McClatchy and The Washington Post, and other outlets since he smuggled himself into Syria from Turkey in May. He last communicated with colleagues by e-mail on Aug. 13. An update he posted on Twitter two days earlier, about enjoying an alcohol-fueled birthday party with members of the Free Syrian Army, underscored that he was on good terms with the rebels he was reporting on at the time.

Spent the day at an FSA pool party with music by @taylorswift13. They even brought me whiskey. Hands down, best birthday ever.

— Austin Tice (@Austin_Tice) 11 Aug 12

A State Department spokeswoman, Victoria Nuland, said at a briefing on Monday: “We’ve seen the video. We are not in a position to verify, (a) whether it’s him, (b) whether it represents an actual scene that happened or something that may have been staged.” She added: ” There’s a lot of reason for the Syrian Government to duck responsibility, but we continue to believe that, to the best of our knowledge, we think he is in Syrian Government custody.”

Mr Tice’s parents, Marc and Debra Tice, confirmed that the man in the video was their son, in a statement that began: “Knowing Austin is alive and well is comforting to our family. Though it is difficult to see our eldest son in such a setting and situation as that depicted in the video, it is reassuring that he appears to be unharmed.”

As the McClatchy correspondent Hannah Allam explains, the brief video clip showing the reporter alive was uploaded to a new YouTube account last Wednesday, but seen much more widely on Monday after it was posted on Facebook by supporters of President Bashar al-Assad. James Ball of The Washington Post reports that the pro-Assad blogger who drew attention to the video on Facebook wrote that the images of the reporter being held by Islamists, rather than government forces, proved that “Western media is working against Syria.”

Analysts contacted by both McClatchy and The Post, and bloggers who have worked to authenticate video from Syria for the past 18 months, agreed that some details of the video did not ring true.

The clip shows the American captive, wearing a blindfold, clearly distressed as he tries to recite an Islamic prayer in Arabic to armed captors, before breaking off and exclaiming in English: “Oh, Jesus. Oh, Jesus.” Close observers of video from Syria and of jihadist clips drew attention to the unusual clothes worn by Mr. Tice’s captors, and the halting way they shouted expressions of praise for Allah, as if they needed to be prompted.

Joseph Holliday, a former United States Army intelligence officer who tracks Syrian rebel groups for the Institute for the Study of War in Washington, told The Post that it seemed strange that the armed men around Mr. Tice were wearing what appear to be salwar kameez, traditional clothing worn in Afghanistan, which looked very clean. “It’s like a caricature of a jihadi group,” he said. “My gut instinct is that regime security guys dressed up like a bunch of wahoos and dragged him around and released the video to scare the U.S. and others about the danger of Al Qaeda extremists in Syria. It would fit their narrative perfectly.”

The video came to light the same day that Syria’s foreign minister, Walid al-Moallem, scolded other countries who “clearly induce and support terrorism in Syria with money, weapons and foreign fighters,” in an address to the United Nations General Assembly.

In an interview with McClatchy, Murad Batal al Shishani, an analyst in London who monitors extremist groups, cast doubt on a comment on the pro-Assad Facebook page, which said that “the American journalist Austin Tice is with the Nusra Front gangs and Al Qaeda in Syria,” an apparent reference to Jabhat al-Nusra, a jihadist group. But, as Ms. Allam writes, that organization has “a sophisticated media wing that produces a Twitter feed and videos that are clearly labeled and edited.” It would be unusual for the group to have simply uploaded the clip to YouTube and waited for pro-Assad bloggers to draw attention to it, rather than using well-known jihadist Internet forums.

Jenan Moussa, a reporter for Al Aan TV in Dubai who has worked in Syria recently, wrote on Twitter that none of the fighters from that group she saw there wore Afghan-style clothing.

Jabhat AlNusra fighters I saw w/ @HaraldDoornbos in #Syria had military fatigue. Few fighters had long Dashdasha, not afghan Shalwar Kameez.

— Jenan Moussa (@jenanmoussa) 1 Oct 12

A Syrian activist who writes on Twitter as @THE_47th posted a link to another Web video, with a logo, titles, music and flashy editing, noting, “This is what a Jabhat Al Nusra capture video looks like, it is of 5 Yemeni Officers captured in Syria thought to be helping the regime.”


Video said to show five Yemeni soldiers taken prisoner in Syria by a jihadist group.

In an interview with Matt Weaver, the Guardian’s Middle East live-blogger, on Tuesday, a friend who helped Mr. Tice enter Syria said the journalist had tried to interview a Jabhat Al Nusra commander, but the group then cancelled a scheduled meeting.

Mr. Tice’s friend, Michael Weiss, is the research director of the conservative Henry Jackson Society, a foreign policy institute in London. He also told The Guardian: “The last time I spoke to Austin was on G-chat August 8th and he was in an area of Damascus that was subsequently pummeled by the regime and then raided.”

After viewing the video, Mr. Tice’s family in Texas and senior editors at McClatchy and The Post called for his immediate release.

As he reported from Syria this year, Mr. Tice used social networks to stay in touch with his family, to publish his work and even to argue about coverage of the conflict with colleagues.

Darraya residents clean a town street. Most gov services have been cut to this suburb on the west side of Damascus. http://t.co/k5SVamaF

— Austin Tice (@Austin_Tice) 7 Aug 12

In a series of Twitter updates the week before he disappeared, Mr. Tice criticized a post on The Lede drawing attention to a spate of new reports from Western journalists who made it into rebel-held territory in August. “The way has always been open. This whole spin is an excuse for laziness,” he wrote. “Clearly the risk is real,” he added: “But idea that it’s prohibitive of more/better coverage is a red herring. I see it as corporate overlawyering.”

.@RobertMackey @thelede @hadeelalsh @javierespinosa2 @martinchulov The way has always been open. This whole spin is an excuse for laziness.

— Austin Tice (@Austin_Tice) 7 Aug 12

Just weeks before he went missing, the former soldier wrote a manifesto of sorts on Facebook, explaining his decision to work in such a risky environment to family and friends, which was reproduced in its entirety by The Post in August. The message began:

It’s nice and all, but please quit telling me to be safe.

Against my better judgment, I’m posting this on Facebook. Flame away.

People keep telling me to be safe (as if that’s an option), keep asking me why I’m doing this crazy thing, keep asking what’s wrong with me for coming here. So listen.

Our granddads stormed Normandy and Iwo Jima and defeated global fascism. Neil Armstrong flew to the Moon in a glorified trashcan, doing math on a clipboard as he went. Before there were roads, the Pioneers put one foot in front of the other until they walked across the entire continent. Then a bunch of them went down to fight and die in Texas ‘cause they thought it was the right thing to do.

Sometime between when our granddads licked the Nazis and when we started putting warnings on our coffee cups about the temperature of our beverage, America lost that pioneering spirit. We became a fat, weak, complacent, coddled, unambitious and cowardly nation. I went off to two wars with misguided notions of patriotism and found in both that the first priority was to never get killed, something we could have achieved from our living rooms in America with a lot less hassle. To protect careers and please the politicians, we weighed ourselves down with enough armor to break a man’s back, gorged on RipIts and ice cream, and believed our own press that we were doing something noble.

He contrasted American life to the current struggle in Syria, where “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 concluded:

No, 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.

And look, if you still don’t get it, go read Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls. That book explains it all better than I ever could.


Robert Mackey also remixes the news on Twitter @robertmackey.

“I Have a Life Wish.”

Family and friends await word on the whereabouts of Austin Tice, the former Marine Corps infantry officer and current Georgetown law student who set out this spring to be a journalist covering the uprising and war in Syria. He has been missing for more than two weeks.

An update is here.

Please keep Austin in your thoughts and prayers, and hope that the Syrian government shares news of him soon, and that a reunion quickly follows. And please think and pray as well of the many missing Syrians, too. 

From the clip, above:

“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.”

ABOUT THE PHOTOGRAPH

Austin, in Yabrud. Earlier this year. An image from his FB page.

Parents of Kidnapped U.S. Journalist Austin Tice on Their Struggle to Free Son from Syria Captivity

http://democracynow.org – It has been nearly two-and-a-half years since American journalist Austin Tice disappeared while covering the war in Syria. At the time of his disappearance, Austin was one of the few foreign journalists who had continued reporting in Syria as the conflict intensified. He traveled extensively throughout the country filing in-depth dispatches from the frontlines. Tice is the last known U.S. reporter held in Syria, after two others — James Foley and Steven Sotloff — were beheaded by militants from the self-described Islamic State last year. Syria is said to be the world’s most dangerous country for journalists, with nearly 130 news and information providers killed since the conflict began in March 2011. Austin’s parents, Debra and Marc Tice, join us to discuss the ongoing effort to win their son’s release. We also speak to Delphine Halgand, U.S. director of Reporters Without Borders, which has has launched a public awareness campaign for Austin’s release.

Democracy Now!, is an independent global news hour that airs weekdays on 1,300+ TV and radio stations Monday through Friday. Watch our livestream 8-9am ET: http://democracynow.org

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#AustinTice, #DailyEmail, #DelphineHalgand, #Radio, #ReportersWithoutBorders, #Syria, #Time, #US

Watch on cultureofresistance.tumblr.com

The US state department believes American journalist Austin Tice, who disappeared in Syria in August, is in the custody of the Bashar al-Assad regime. This video, which emerged on Monday, purports to show a blindfolded Tice being led up a rocky pathway. The state department cannot confirm the authenticity of the video

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Video Surfaces of Missing Journalist in Syria

A video that was uploaded to Youtube in September indicates that freelance journalist Austin Tice, being held hostage in Syria, is in fact still alive.

Family of missing journalist Austin Tice make plea to Syrian government through Arabic-language TV

05/10/12

“Knowing Austin is alive is comforting to our family, although it is difficult to see him in the circumstances recently depicted,” his family said in a statement released to Russia Today’s Arabic service.

By Victoria Cavaliere / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

In this image taken from undated video posted to YouTube, American freelance journalist Austin Tice, who had been reporting for American news organizations in Syria until his disappearance in August 2012, prays in Arabic and English while blindfolded in the presence of gunmen.

The family of an American journalist captured in Syria has issued an emotional appeal to an Arabic-language news outlet pleading for his release.

Freelance journalist Austin Tice went missing six weeks ago while covering the conflict in Syria, and a video emerged last week indicating that Tice was unharmed but in the hands of captors.

It is widely believed that Tice, 31, is being held by the Syrian government.

“Knowing Austin is alive is comforting to our family, although it is difficult to see him in the circumstances recently depicted,” his family said in a statement released to Russia Today’s Arabic service.

The family’s message pleads for Tice’s release and offers “prayers” to the people of Syria. The statement is written in both English and Arabic.

“We beseech the Syrian government to come to our aid,” his family said. “Understanding the many current demands on its resources, we nonetheless ask the Syrian government to determine Austin’s whereabouts, establish that he is well, and do all in its power to expedite his return to us.”

Russia Today, or RT, has millions of viewers across Europe, the Middle East and Russia.

The 24-hour news channel is funded by the Russian government, a staunch supporter of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad during his 18-month battle against anti-government rebels. The conflict has left some 30,000 people dead.

Experts continue to believe Tice is being held by Syrian government forces — though the video released last week apparently sought to add confusion regarding his whereabouts. On the video, a blindfolded Tice is walked through mountain terrain and his heard making a statement in Arabic before uttering “Oh Jesus.”

His captors were dressed in Afghan-style tunics and pants, and not the typical garb of the Syrian military.

But experts who have analyzed the video say it appears it was shot to try and throw off Western officials.

“My gut instinct is that regime security guys dressed up like a bunch of wahoos and dragged him [Tice] around and released the video to scare the U.S. and others about the danger of al-Qaeda extremists in Syria. It would fit their [the Syrian government’s] narrative perfectly,” Joseph Holliday, a Syria expert, told The Washington Post.

Tice, a Houston native and law student at Georgetown University, was covering the conflict in Syria for outlets including McClatchy Newspapers and The Washington Post.

His parents also asked that their son be able to call home “as soon as possible.”

“Without Austin our family in incomplete. We will be profoundly grateful for any and all who assist in making our family whole again,” the statement said.

vcavaliere@nydailynews.com