Family of Austin Tice calls on Biden to help secure son's release from Syria

Family of Austin Tice calls on Biden to help secure son's release from Syria
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The family of Austin Tice, the American journalist and former Marine who has been held captive in Syria for just over nine years, is calling on President BidenJoe Biden White House: US has donated 200 million COVID-19 vaccines around the world Police recommend charges against four over Sinema bathroom protest K Street revenues boom MORE to prioritize securing their son’s safe release.

The Tice family, led by Austin’s parents Debra and Marc, penned an open letter to Biden requesting his personal engagement and direct orders to help facilitate their son’s release and return to the U.S.

The letter emphasized Biden’s dedication to family, requesting that the president convey strong support, communicate clear directions and undergo meaningful action “in a sincere effort to bring Austin safely home.”

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“We believe that if Austin were a member of your family, all the Bidens would rally around and come together to bring him home,” the Tice family wrote in a letter obtained by The Washington Post.

“On Austin’s behalf, because you are president of the country he honorably served as a Marine Corps officer, we are asking you for that kind of all-in effort. We believe you can do this. For Austin and our family, this is not too much to ask,” they added.

Tice, who is originally from Texas, was kidnapped in August 2012 while he was working as a freelance journalist and reporting on the Syrian civil war in Damascus.

The Tice family said Biden often speaks about the significance of journalism in a democratic society, writing that “Austin obviously shares these values with you and is paying a high price for doing this critically important work.”

The Trump administration in November said it was using every tool at its disposal to bring Tice home, but their efforts were ultimately unsuccessful. There was a glimmer of hope last year when reports surfaced that two senior U.S. officials had traveled to Damascus in August to meet with Ali Mamlouk, the head of Syria’s intelligence agency.

The Tice family said the Biden administration is “uniquely positioned to help Austin,” contending that the White House is composed of “seasoned professionals who know how to make a successful diplomatic approach for Austin.”

They said officials currently serving in the White House must “build off the breakthroughs that were achieved by the previous administration,” specifically urging them to continue direct engagement, relevant dialogue and significant action.

“The time is now. Austin is waiting,” the letter added.

The family asked Biden to publicly talk about Tice to “let people in Washington and Damascus know you are thinking about him.”

They then offered to meet with Biden’s family, writing that “A meeting of our loving families would send a strong message across our country and overseas.”

“It would show that you have taken the lead and we are working on this together. Together, we can bring Austin safely home,” the letter added.

A group of more than 80 members of Congress penned a letter to Biden in April, calling on him to work on securing the return of Tice from Syria.

In August, the Biden administration urged Syria to assist in the return of Tice. Secretary of State Antony BlinkenAntony BlinkenSullivan raised normalizing relations with Israel during meeting with Saudi crown prince: report Democrats call for State to lift ban on embassies discussing same-sex marriage US, Brazil discuss ways to slow migration MORE, in a statement commemorating Tice's 40th birthday, said "We believe that it is within Bashar al-Assad's power to free Austin."

"I am personally committed to bringing home all Americans held hostage or wrongfully detained abroad," Blinken wrote. "We will continue to pursue all avenues to bring Austin home. Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs Roger Carstens and the broader team are working diligently and around the clock to bring Austin back to his family."

The Hill reached out to the White House for comment.

Updated at 6:18 p.m.