The parents of a freelance journalist, who is missing in Syria, have penned an open letter asking President Donald Trump to speak with the Syrian regime about their son, Austin Tice.
In The Washington Post’s press freedom newsletter, Marc and Debra Tice wrote the open letter days before their son’s 39th birthday.
“Direct dialogue between the U.S. and Syria is the channel for Austin’s release,” they said.
The Tices believe that their son, who disappeared at a checkpoint in a Damascus suburb in August 2012, is still alive and that a “senior US government official” has held up his return.
In former national security adviser John Bolton’s recent memoir, he claims Secretary of State Mike Pompeo disapproved of the president’s plan to speak with the Syrian regime about Tice’s disappearance.
“President Trump is committed to bring Austin home. He has spoken out publicly and reached out personally to Syria. … Even so, the Secretary of State did not proceed with discussing U.S. hostages with Syria according to John Bolton’s book,” the Tices wrote.
In Bolton’s “The Room Where It Happened,” he states that Trump had a “constant desire” to speak with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad about Austin Tice and the other U.S. hostages. The book claims that Bolton and Pompeo thought Trump’s idea was “undesirable.”
“Fortunately, Syria saved Trump from himself, refusing even to talk to Pompeo about them,” Bolton wrote.
Before the book was published, Debra Tice told Fox News that “insubordinate” U.S. officials are opposed to initiating talks with the Syrian government. She did not name the officials.
“The question is, who is going to stand in the way of the president of the United States bringing our son home, and who would want to do that?” she said in February.
Tice, a former Marine captain from Texas, was in Syria the summer before his final year at the Georgetown University Law Center to cover the country's civil war as a freelance journalist, Al-Monitor reports. He was working for several news outlets including McClatchy, CBS and The Washington Post. He disappeared after his taxi was stopped at a checkpoint in a Damascus suburb.
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 Al-Monitor.
His parents have asked the media to hold U.S. officials accountable for bringing their son home.
“Every single day Austin needs you to raise your voice to hasten the day when he will walk free," his parents wrote in their letter. “May it be soon."
U.S. officials have hinted they believe the journalist is still alive. The FBI is offering a reward of up $1 million for information leading to his recovery.
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