Newseum and Reporters Without Borders unveil banner for Austin Tice

Debra Tice, Austin Tice's mother, delivers remarks at the banner's unveiling on Nov. 2.

Debra Tice, Austin Tice’s mother, delivers remarks at the banner’s unveiling on Nov. 2.

On Nov. 2, the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists, the Newseum and Reporters Without Borders (RSF) unveiled a banner on the Newseum’s facade asking for the safe return of journalist Austin Tice. The banner, which faces Pennsylvania Avenue, features a photo of Tice and the message, “Held captive for being a journalist since August 2012.” Tice is the only American journalist held captive in Syria, according to RSF and other sources.

“Austin has been held captive in Syria for 1,542 days,” said Debra Tice, his mother, during a press conference held outside the Newseum to unveil the banner. “His captivity is indicative of the very real dangers journalists face as they exercise the fundamental human right to information, opinion and expression.”

“This banner will stay in front of the Newseum until Austin Tice is released. It will be here if he is not released before Jan. 20, when the next president walks by,” said Jeffrey Herbst, president and CEO of the Newseum.

Delphine Halgand, U.S. director of RSF, and Douglas Jehl, Washington Post foreign editor, also delivered remarks on behalf of their organizations emphasizing their commitment to Tice’s safe return.

After the press conference, Debra Tice said, “This morning, this banner has already done its work. There was a congressman jogging on his lunch hour, he saw the banner, and he stopped… and he offered to get involved in the effort to bring him home.”

Austin Tice went to Syria in 2012 as a freelance journalist to report on the conflict there. His work has been published by McClatchy Co., The Washington Post, The Associated Press, AFP, CBS, NPR and BBC. His reporting earned the 2012 George Polk Award for War Reporting, the 2012 McClatchy President’s Award and the 2015 National Press Club John Aubuchon Press Freedom Award. On Aug. 14, 2012, three days after his 31st birthday, Austin Tice was taken captive as he was preparing to travel from Daraya, near Damascus, Syria, to Beirut, Lebanon. He is alive and he is not being held by ISIS, according to diverse credible sources.

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