Tice, a former Marine and award-winning freelance reporter, went missing in 2012 in Syria

By Andrea Billups
Updated February 11, 2015 12:05 PM
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Credit: Christy Wilcox/AFP/Getty

The family of Austin Tice, a former Marine and freelance journalist who went missing in Syria in 2012, is working to create renewed awareness of his plight and to urge U.S. authorities to bring him home.

Next week, Tice’s family will launch a new media campaign – in conjunction with Reporters Without Borders – to spur interest in his case, Mashable reports.

The campaign’s website urges supporters to sign a petition asking the government to work harder to bring home Tice, 33. The hashtag #freeaustintice was created, and followers are encouraged to take a blindfold pledge in which they submit photos of themselves wearing a black blindfold.

Tice, a Houston, Texas, native who had served in the Marines from 2005 to 2011, returned to the Middle East as a journalist. He is believed to have disappeared from Daraya, Syria, on Aug. 13, 2012, as he was preparing to travel to Beirut, Lebanon.

Regularly active on social media, Tice sent a final Tweet on Aug. 11, 2012.

Despite a lack of word since then, his family remains hopeful, telling Mashable that credible sources have told them that the infantry veteran is held captive and has been treated decently, although no ransom demands have been made.

“He is alive, and he is not held by ISIS,” his website says.

“We haven’t received any concrete or tangible proof of life, or even communication, from anyone,” added his father, Marc Tice, in an interview with Newsweek. “We do hear from time to time from sources that we deem to be credible that Austin is alive and that we should be patient.”

Tice, who had left law school at Georgetown University to report from the Middle East, wrote for such outlets as the Associated Press, The Washington Post and Agence France-Presse. For his efforts in covering the Syrian conflict, Tice was honored with the 2012 George Polk Award for War Reporting and the 2012 McClatchy Newspapers President’s Award.

Several media outlets, including USA Today and McClatchy Newspapers, are supporting the family’s online campaign.

As sad news came Tuesday that the death of U.S. aide worker Kayla Mueller, 26, had been confirmed, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest noted that another American was also being held in the Middle East, sparking hopes that that person could be Tice, Mashable said.

Tice’s mother, Debra, Tweeted her support for Mueller’s family on Tuesday.

“May Kayla rest in peace,” she wrote. “Our hearts are breaking for the Mueller family.”