President Joe Biden is being urged this Thanksgiving by The Washington Post Press Freedom Partnership, a public service initiative that aims to promote press freedom worldwide, to assist in the safe return of freelance journalist Austin Tice.
Tice, a former Marine captain from Texas, was in Syria the summer before his final year at the Georgetown University Law Center in 2012 to cover the country's civil war as a freelance journalist when he disappeared after his taxi was stopped at a checkpoint in a Damascus suburb.
In a full-page print advertisement, the Press Freedom Partnership ran an ad featuring his parents, Marc and Debra Tice, who have advocated for their son’s return from Syria since his disappearance.
The ad aims to serve as a reminder that the Tices have had an empty chair at their Thanksgiving dinner table for the past nine years.
It notes that the couple sent an open letter to Biden "pleading for his help in Austin’s safe return" eight weeks ago and they have not yet received a response.
"President Biden, please meet with Debra and Marc Tice soon," the ad states in bold letters. "Only you can bring this brave American home safely."
On Oct. 3, the Tices urged Biden to "prioritize Austin’s secure release and safe return" in a letter to the president.
They wrote that Aug. 14 marked the ninth year of their son’s abduction, and they believe that, with Biden’s "personal engagement and direct orders," Austin could be brought back home.
Five weeks after he disappeared, a 47-second clip surfaced showing a group of armed and masked men forcing Tice to recite a prayer in Arabic while he was blindfolded, according to news reports.
"We believe that if Austin were a member of your family, all the Bidens would rally around and come together to bring him home," they wrote. "On Austin’s behalf, because you are president of the country he honorably served as a Marine Corps officer, we are asking you for that kind of all-in effort. We believe you can do this. For Austin and our family, this is not too much to ask."
They detail Austin’s work in Syria, noting that he worked for McClatchy News, winning a Polk Award for war reporting and had stories appear in The Washington Post, Associated Press, NPR, CBS, BBC, Agence France-Presse, and other outlets.
The Tices told Biden they would "welcome the opportunity for our family to meet with your family" so they can share more about their missing son.
Biden isn’t the first president the Tices have reached out to requesting help bringing their son home.
Last summer, they penned an open letter to then-President Donald Trump asking him to speak with the Syrian regime about their son.
Now, they are asking Biden to "step out and boldly lead" in order to "bring Austin safely home."
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