Austin Tice (SFS ‘02) is in his sixth year of imprisonment. A freelance journalist, Tice was one of the first on the ground reporting on the Syrian civil war in 2011, demonstrating incredible bravery by providing insight into one of the most dangerous conflicts in the world. In 2012, Tice was kidnapped. He is believed to be alive, and being held by an unknown captor.
This editorial board finds Tice’s story as heroic as it is devastating, and urges Georgetown students and the general public to remember Tice. Although there are active campaigns working towards his release, supported by Reporters Without Borders and the Georgetown University journalism program, we encourage students who care about freedom of information to continue to take up the torch. We do not wish to see the momentum drain from the movement as Tice’s imprisonment stretches beyond the half-decade mark.
In addition, although we have been quick to criticize President Donald Trump in the past, we acknowledge his commitment to Tice’s freedom. The Trump administration has been very proactive in their efforts to bring Tice home by setting up a back channel with the Syrian government, although Syria’s government reportedly continues to deny knowing anything about Tice. We commend the Trump administration’s attempts, as it is only through sustained and continued efforts like these that progress will be made.
Tice’s story is an extreme example of the dangers faced by journalists — especially foreign correspondents — around the world. We understand that as many of us in this editorial board are aspiring journalists, our concerns may be insular. But reporters like Tice are telling stories that must be told about human rights abuses and violence in war-torn countries, and it is vital that we keep their safety and security in our minds as much as possible. The lack of progress cannot allow this tragic situation to slip from our minds. In a time when journalism is under attack, it is all the more important that we defend those who risk their health and safety to inform the world.