February 28, 2024

President Biden is meeting Monday with the parents of Austin Tice, the freelance journalist and veteran who was abducted in Syria a decade ago, after saying Saturday at the White House Correspondents Dinner that he’d like to meet them and talk about their son. Mr. Biden told reporters he’s meeting with them “today,” in response to a question from CBS News. 

The meeting with Marc and Debra Tice comes after months and months of pleading with the Biden administration for a presidential meeting. It’s been more than nine years since a video emerged showing the freelance journalist bound and blindfolded. The Tice family’s pleas to the Biden White House come as Marine veteran Trevor Reed was returned to the U.S. from Russia in exchange for a Russian prisoner. 

The president acknowledged Tice’s parents at Saturday’s dinner after CBS News Radio White House correspondent and White House Correspondents Association president Steven Portnoy recognized Tice’s mother, Debra Tice, in the audience. 

“Mr. President, at Table 48 tonight is a woman named Debra Tice. Mrs. Tice, would you please stand?” Portnoy said Saturday. “Mrs. Tice’s son, Austin, is a colleague of ours at the Washington Post, McClatchy and CBS, and he should be here with us tonight. But he’s been held captive in Syria since 2012. As we take note of Trevor Reed’s return, our thoughts tonight are with Austin Tice, and our collective hopes are that after nearly ten years in captivity he will soon return home safely to his mother, his father, his colleagues and his friends.”

Halfway through his speech, Mr. Biden said to Tice’s mother, “Mom, I’d like to meet you and Dad to talk about your son.”

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the administration “went into action” Sunday to make the meeting happen, after the president made those remarks. 

Tice’s parents have pleaded with the Biden administration and previous administrations to take action and initiate diplomatic talks to bring their son home. Tice’s current whereabouts and health status remain unclear, nearly a decade after a video emerged showing him bound and blindfolded. 

Tice, who worked for outlets including McClatchy, The Washington Post and CBS News, was kidnapped while covering the Syrian civil war on August 14, 2012. Tice is now 40. 

Former President Trump sent two administration officials to Syria in the summer of 2020 to try to negotiate Tice’s release. It was part of what one U.S. diplomat described as a concerted effort to bring Tice back as a part of an “October surprise” before the election, but the officials failed to secure his freedom. At the time, Syrian officials told CBS News that the Syrian government said no discussion could take place about U.S. hostages as long as U.S. military forces remained in Syria. Roughly 900 U.S. troops are in Syria. 

Source link