Parents Of Journalist Kidnapped In Syria Appearing On UH Panel

This afternoon’s panel discussion includes the U.S. director of Reporters Without Borders, along with Tice’s parents.

Austin Tice. Photo courtesy of the Tice family


The University of Houston is hosting a discussion to draw attention to the plight of Austin Tice, the freelance journalist from Houston who was kidnapped in Syria in 2012.

Earlier this year, Debra and Marc Tice joined with Reporters Without Borders to raise awareness of Austin’s situation, as well as create an urgency regarding the importance of press freedom. Marc and Debra have become more visible in recent months, with events like the “Blindfold Challenge” — on online petition urging President Obama to do all he can to bring Austin safely home — and this afternoon’s event at the University of Houston.

Marc Tice says, “Definitely one of the aims and the goals that we hope we can accomplish with this greater awareness is to generate new sources of information — some resource will bubble to the surface that will, in fact, help us with our efforts to get Austin home as soon as possible.”

The Czech Republic still has a consulate in Syria and they’ve helped the Tices quite a bit. But Debra Tice says things have changed recently that allow for direct U.S. talks with Damascus.

“Our government is now in direct discussions with the Syrian government as regards consular issues, which means issues around American citizen situations, whether its persons or property. And so Austin falls into those discussions, and that is monumental.”

Marc Tice says over the months and years, they’ve heard, “He’s alive. He’s safe, be patient” from many of their sources.

“Yes, yes. I mean, a number of sources that we believe are credible, that our government believes are credible. Unfortunately, we can’t ever drill back to the original source of that information. But overwhelmingly, there’s a belief among everyone that has been helping us and advising us that Austin’s alive. His release is a matter of time. We want it to be a matter of a very, very short time.”

The panel discussion this afternoon includes Delphine Halgand, the U.S. Director of Paris-based Reporters Without Borders. It’s set for four o’clock in the UH Honors College Commons in the M.D. Anderson Library.


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