Lawmakers Ask Biden to Use 'Full Capabilities' to Rescue Former Marine and Journalist from Syria

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Sean Neumann
·3 min read
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Fort Worth Star-Telegram/Tribune News Service via Getty Austin Tice

Members of Congress are asking President Joe Biden to use his "full capabilities" to secure the release of Austin Tice, a journalist and former Marine believed to have been detained in Syria for nearly a decade.

The administration's position is that Tice, 39, is alive and being held in Syria, The New York Times reported.

According to the paper, officials think that Tice was abducted at a checkpoint in the suburbs of Damascus in August 2012 before briefly escaping captivity only to be taken hostage once again.

Previous efforts by the Obama and Trump administrations to free Tice have been unsuccessful.

Tice worked as a freelance reporter for the McClatchy news service. The publisher reported Tuesday that a bipartisan group of 80 lawmakers wrote a letter to Biden urging him to ramp up the White House's efforts to rescue Tice, a Texas native and former Marine.

"We are calling on you at the outset of your administration to use your full capabilities to secure Austin's long overdue release," the lawmakers wrote in their letter.

The Washington Post reported last year that Tice, a Georgetown University law alum, had traveled to Syria to report on the country's recently unfolding civil war when he was there in 2012.

Tice's family has pleaded for years with U.S. officials to bring their son home. The FBI has offered $1 million for information leading to Tice's return.

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CHRISTY WILCOX/AFP via Getty Austin Tice

FBI Austin Tice

The Post reported that Tice's mother, Debra Tice, saw Trump, 74, as "an advocate and an ally" for Amercians hostages in Syria, like her son.

Last March, he told Syria "please work with us, and we would appreciate you letting him out."

Now with the transition to Biden, 78, lawmakers are renewing calls to bring Tice back to the U.S. safely.

"Across multiple administrations, Congress has stood united in supporting action to free Austin Tice," lawmakers wrote to Biden this week, adding they "commit to supporting you using every constructive tool in your power to secure Austin's safe return."

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Tice was detained while attempting to leave Syria and crossover into Lebanon, after McClatchy reports he was filing his final reports from the region at the time.

Five weeks after his capture, a video shared online appeared to show a man believed to be Tice being held captive by a group of armed men.

The Biden administration said this month it has a "sincere belief" that Tice is still alive.

Roger Carstens, the special presidential envoy for hostage affairs in the Biden administration, told McClatchy: "We operate with the sincere belief that Austin is alive and waiting for us to come get him."