The FBI has announced a new reward of $1 million for information leading to the safe location, recovery, and return of Austin Tice, an American freelance journalist who disappeared in Syria in 2012.
Tice’s parents, Marc and Debra Tice, said Friday they were encouraged by the reward but suggested it did not signify new developments in the search for their son.
“We are heartened by the recent United States Government posting of a reward for information leading directly to the safe return of our son, Austin,” the family said in a statement. “As far as we know, the timing of this reward is unrelated to any specific event; rather, it is prompted by the length of Austin’s detention and the Syrian government’s lack of information concerning Austin’s disappearance.”
Austin Tice was covering the Syrian civil war for McClatchy, the Washington Post and other news organizations when he vanished en route to Lebanon. He was last sighted six weeks after his disappearance, when a video was posted that showed him being guided up a hill by a group of armed men.
While there’s been no other public sighting since 2012, his parents remain confident he is alive and that his freedom can be secured.
ABC News reported Friday that two unnamed senior officials had recently confirmed that Tice is believed to have survived his captivity, despite past U.S. intelligence assessments that he might have died in Syria.
In December 2016, Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said on the Senate floor that then-U.S. hostage envoy James O'Brien had informed him that Tice was alive.
On Friday, the family again urged people to come forward with information about his whereabouts.
“We deeply appreciate every increased effort to hasten the day that we see our son safely home. Austin has been living in captivity for more than five years and eight months,” the family said. “If anyone has information which might restore Austin’s freedom and reunite our family, we urge them to share it.”
The FBI reward of up to $1 million is for information leading directly to the safe location, recovery, and return of Austin Tice. Anyone with information is urged to contact the FBI Tip Line at tips.fbi.gov or email@example.com.
The Edmund Walsh School of Foreign Service, Austin Tice’ alma mater, is exhibiting Tice’s photographs of Syrian children in Washington from April 23-30. The exhibit is being held at the Intercultural Center Galleria at Georgetown University.