Austin Tice, American journalist, reportedly held in Syria


A picture shows freelance photographer Austin Tice in an undisclosed location. The American journalist has been missing in Syria for more than a week, his most recent employers said on August 24, 2012. Sources suggest he is being held by the government in Syria.


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Austin Tice, an American freelance journalist who has been missing for more than two weeks in Syria, is believed to be in government custody according to sources, The Washington Post reported.

Recent statements from Czech diplomats, rebel supporters and reports from inside Syria suggest that 31-year-old Tice was detained by Syrian government forces near the Damascus suburb of Daraya, The Miami Herald reported.

The US State Department said the Syrian government has not responded to official inquiries about Tice, but they are working with the Czech to obtain more information.

Tice, a Houston native and former Marine, has worked for The Washington Post, McClatchy Newspapers and other news outlets from Syria, according to The Associated Press.

His father, Marc Tice, told the AP, "It's not uncommon for various journalists moving in and about Syria to be out of communication. We're very hopeful that that is what is happening."

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On Monday, Czech ambassador to Syria Eva Filipi said, "Our sources report that he is alive and that he was detained by government forces on the outskirts of Damascus, where the rebels were fighting government troops," according to The Post. The Czech embassy has been handling US interests in Syria since the American embassy closed in February.

The Miami Herald reported that Tice entered Syria without a visa in May, traveling with rebel forces and reaching Damascus in late July. He had planned to leave Syria around August 19 or 20 to meet friends in Lebanon.

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Tice's parents released a statement saying, "Austin is our precious son, and we beseech the Syrian government to treat him well and return him safely to us as soon as possible," according to The Post.

US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said, "We strongly urge all sides to ensure the safety of journalists in Syria," according to the AP.

The Post's executive editor Marcus Brauchli said in a statement, "We're focused intensively on trying to ascertain his whereabouts and ensure his safe return," while Anders Gyllenhaal, vice president for news at McClatchy, said, "Journalists like Austin from all over the world risk their lives every day to cover the news."