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Kidnapped journalist Austin Tice is alive, officials say

United States officials announced Tuesday at a National Press Club event that missing Houston-native journalist Austin Tice, a former UH student, is believed to be alive.

Robert O’Brien, U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs, said the United States believes Tice is alive and still captive in Syria more than six years after he went missing while working as a freelance journalist in the area, according to coverage by the Houston Chronicle.

O’Brien did not provide comment on the identity of Tice’s captors or further information on his condition, according to the Chronicle.

O’Brien additionally urged Russia, an ally of Syria, to push for the journalist’s release.

“We are continuing to call on the Russians to exert whatever influence they have in Syria to bring Austin home,” he said, according to the New York Post.

President Donald Trump’s administration prioritized securing Tice’s release in the months following the 2016 election, and O’Brien emphasized Tuesday that the president would take available measures necessary to bring Tice home, but would not negotiate for the release of any hostages.

Tice attended the University of Houston in the late ’90s, during which time he worked as a reporter for The Daily Cougar, before joining the United States Marine Corps.

In August 2012, Tice was kidnapped while reporting near Damascus, Syria. A video released that September showed the journalist blindfolded and held captive. According to ongoing coverage by The Cougar, Tice’s parents, Marc and Debra Tice, have dedicated the past six years to seeking their son’s return.

At the time of his capture, Tice was studying law at Georgetown University.

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