AP/Jacquelyn Martin

President Biden met on Monday with the parents of Austin Tice, the American journalist and former Marine who has been held captive in Syria since 2012.

Biden told Marc and Debra Tice, Austin’s parents, that his administration will work “relentlessly” until Austin and other Americans that are being held as hostages are brought home, according to a Monday evening statement.

“During their meeting, the President reiterated his commitment to continue to work through all available avenues to secure Austin’s long overdue return to his family,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said.

“We appreciate the bravery and candor of families enduring these harrowing experiences, and we remain committed to supporting them and, most importantly, reuniting them with their loved ones,” she added.

The president first told reporters that he was going to meet with the Tice family earlier on Monday.

Debra Tice attended the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner on Saturday and was introduced by the association’s president, CBS News’s Steven Portnoy.

Biden attended the dinner and said that he intended to meet with Tice’s family.

“After the president made those comments, obviously we went into action to work to set up the meeting on Sunday and to see if Debra and Marc Tice, Austin’s parents, would be available,” Psaki said earlier on Monday.

She said that national security officials have met three times, in person, since December with the Tice family, including a meeting last week.

“Obviously meeting with the president is an additional and more significant step in that regard but we have been in close touch with them as well,” she said.

Biden spoke generally about imprisoned journalists in his remarks at the dinner on Saturday.

“We honor journalists killed, missing, imprisoned, detained and tortured; covering war, exposing corruption and holding leaders accountable,” he said.

The Tice family called on Biden to prioritize securing their son’s safe release in an open letter to the president in October, requesting his personal engagement on the issue. The letter called on Biden to issue direct orders to help facilitate his release and return to the U.S.

“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 December, Debra Tice called the White House a “hurdle” in bringing her son home during a press conference at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

Austin Tice was kidnapped in August 2012 while working as a freelance journalist covering the Syrian civil war. The Trump administration in November 2020 said it was using every tool at its disposal to bring Tice home, but were ultimately unsuccessful.

Updated 8:05 p.m.

Tags Austin Tice Jen Psaki Joe Biden

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