Missing journalist Austin Tice likely is alive in Syria, envoy tells Sen. John Cornyn

Austin Tice in Syria.
Austin Tice in Syria. Courtesy of the Tice family

An Obama administration envoy has “high confidence” that missing McClatchy journalist Austin Tice is alive in Syria, Sen. John Cornyn said Friday.

Cornyn, R-Texas, said he was briefed Friday by James O’Brien, a presidential envoy for hostage affairs, who “delivered positive yet cautious news about Austin.”

“Mr. O’Brien and his team informed me that they have high confidence that Austin is alive in Syria along with other Americans who are being held captive,” Cornyn said on the Senate floor. “While this is certainly positive news, I can’t help but think of his parents and what they have had to go through these last four years.”

“They’re not just counting the months, they’re not just counting the days, but they’re literally counting the minutes and the seconds since he’s been gone and then counting those milestones that we typically observe in our families, birthdays and holidays that they will never recover,” the senator added.

Tice was working as a freelance journalist in Syria for McClatchy, The Washington Post and other news organizations when he vanished on Aug. 14, 2012. He was setting out on what was supposed to be a journey to Lebanon and a break after two and a half months covering the civil war.

Marc Tice told McClatchy in August that although no one has claimed to be holding his son and no one has sent a ransom demand, he has “complete and unwavering confidence” that Austin Tice is alive.

Marc Tice and his wife, Debra, say solving their son’s disappearance had become a priority for the Obama administration. Cornyn, who met with the Tices in Austin, Texas, last week, implored President-elect Donald Trump to make it a priority, too.

“Today’s news should remind us that we cannot give up until we bring Austin Tice home,” Cornyn said. “I renew once again my call for his immediate release by his captors, and I strongly urge the current and future administration to continue to utilize all possible means to secure his safe return.”

William Douglas: 202-383-6026, @williamgdouglas