WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Representative Abigail Spanberger today called for detained U.S. citizen Austin Tice to be released from his seven-year-plus captivity in Syria.
Tice was detained at a checkpoint near Damascus, Syria in August 2012 while working in the country as a freelance journalist covering the suffering of the Syrian people. Tice had previously served in Afghanistan and Iraq as a U.S. Marine Corps Captain, and he was preparing to begin his final year of studies at Georgetown University Law Center.
In September 2019, Spanberger joined a bipartisan, bicameral group of her colleagues in calling on the administration to secure the release of Tice. In the letter sent to President Trump, Spanberger and her colleagues urged the administration to use its full national security team—including the Special Envoy for Hostage Affairs—to push for Tice’s eventual freedom.
On the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives today, Spanberger described the courage of Tice and his commitment as a journalist to amplifying the stories of the Syrian people, specifically children. She also praised Tice’s parents for their continued advocacy, their work to free Austin, and their push for strengthened press freedom around the world.
Click here to watch Spanberger’s speech. A full transcript of her remarks is provided below:
I rise today, because Austin Tice has been in captivity for 2,647 days. Those have been 2,647 days of fear and anguish for his parents, his friends, his classmates, and his community. They’ve also represented 2,647 days of Austin’s remarkable life and his determination and his will to live, despite his captivity.
Austin is a journalist with a deep sense of service. He is also a veteran. And seven years ago he travelled to Syria to report on the plight of Syria’s children. He wanted to shed light on the consequences of a complex and unrelenting war on the youth of Syria. And in Syria, he was abducted—it was 2,647 days ago that he was abducted.
He remains held in Syria. We have every reason to believe that Austin is still alive. He is being held in Syria, and in September, I joined a letter sent by Republicans and Democrats directly to the President of the United States. And in that letter we called on the administration to use every diplomatic tool in our toolbox to secure Austin’s safe return home.
Austin’s parents have been among his strongest advocates. They’ve made countless trips to Washington, DC and across the Middle East, working to secure his release. They have been pillars of strength as they have fought to bring their son home.
I had the opportunity and the honor to meet Marc when he was in Washington, D.C. To see the tenacity and strength and devotion to his child was awe-inspiring. It also makes me understand how he could be a parent to a young man who would go out and seek adventure and seek truth and seek information as a journalist.
It is my hope that we can come together as a body to bring Austin Tice home. I never met Austin Tice, but I am in awe of his story as an adventurer, as a journalist, as a veteran, as someone who has travelled the world seeking information and stories. I have been compelled to take part in this event tonight, and I thank my colleagues for their tireless efforts on behalf of Austin Tice, their work to bring him home, their work to bring a voice to his story and knowledge of his continued capture and detainment in Syria—and I thank them for their work, and I look forward to continuing in my small part to work with them where I am able, where I can be of aid to bring information and light to Austin’s story and to continue to be an advocate to bring him home.
It is my hope that in some days we will be able to—here on the House floor—celebrate the homecoming of an American, of a veteran, of a journalist, of a man who sought to tell the story of children in Syria.
Spanberger—a Member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee—is also a cosponsor of a bipartisan House resolution expressing Congressional concern over the continued detention of Austin Tice.