Five years to the day that journalist Austin Tice went missing covering the civil war in Syria, McClatchy Co. raised a banner Monday outside its corporate headquarters at The Sacramento Bee to honor the kidnapped newsman and draw attention to his plight.
The banner, with a photo of Tice superimposed over the American flag, reads, “American Journalist Austin Tice” and notes that he has been “captive in Syria since August 2012.”
“Now is the time to bring him safely home,” the banner states, carrying the hashtag, #FreeAustinTice.”
“We, across McClatchy, are thinking about Austin today and every day,” said McClatchy President and CEO Craig Forman, who marked the anniversary in The Bee’s courtyard before an audience of employees and Sacramento-area television reporters.
Forman called Tice’s disappearance “an unjust and senseless detention in Syria” and called on federal leaders and his captors to work on his release.
“There was no reason for his detention and there’s none now,” Forman said.
Tice, who turned 36 on Friday, is believed to have gotten into a car to head toward Lebanon when he went missing.
He has not been seen since, except for the release of a 43-second video five weeks after his disappearance that was titled “Austin Tice is alive” and showed him being held by a group of armed men.
Tice, a native Texan and former captain in the U.S. Marine Corps, went to Syria as an independent journalist in May 2012, before his final year of studies at Georgetown Law School.
He was covering events in Syria for McClatchy, The Washington Post and other news organizations.
Forman noted that his parents Marc and Debra Tice have maintained efforts to win his release. His family has created a website at austinticefamily.com to advocate for his release and draw attention to his case.