Saturday, June 22, 2024

National Press Club President Jen Judson Calls on POTUS to Free Austin Tice

Washington, DC – Newly elected National Press Club president Jen Judson made it her priority on her first day in office this month to bring attention to Austin Tice’s case and call on President Biden to prioritize Austin’s release. Judson stood in front of the Freedom Clock posted in the Press Club lobby ticking away the time that Austin has now been detained in Syria. As the clock shows almost ten years, Judson called on the President to “put your best people on it. Get it done.”

Debra Tice

In December, Debra Tice, mother of the award-winning journalist, visited the Club for a press conference with Christophe Deloire, Secretary General of RSF (Reporters Without Borders), about the state of Austin’s case. She said she has had a series of “friendly chats” with Biden administration officials but is worried that after she leaves, Austin’s case gets “shoved to the side of the desk.”

“My feeling now more than ever, the time now is critical for Austin,” Tice said. “I think doors are opening a bit, and we need to shove those doors open and pull Austin out right now. It’s critical.”

Both Judson and Tice implored journalists and community members to keep talking about Austin; share on social media – like, retweet, comment; and sign the online petition calling on the Biden administration to prioritize his release and safe return.

Exhibit honoring Austin Tice, Eric Friedheim National Journalism Library, NPC

A new exhibit has been established at the Eric Friedheim Library inside the National Press Club to honor Austin, a veteran Marine Corps captain and Georgetown University graduate. The display includes Austin’s notebooks, awards, and his well-worn Chuck Taylors. The exhibit serves as a visual reminder of the courageous work Austin was doing reporting on conflict in the Middle East and as a reminder of ongoing threats to journalism as well as the critical importance of press freedom worldwide.

The National Press Club has been fervently supporting the campaign for his release since honoring Tice with the John Aubuchon Press Freedom Award in 2015. The Aubuchon award recognizes those whose work has demonstrated the courage that lies at the heart of a free press.

Austin was arrested on August 14, 2012, while reporting on the conflict in Syria. Since then, he has been detained in secret and in silence. A Polk Award-winning journalist, Tice had covered the country’s civil war as a freelancer for McClatchy Newspapers, the Washington Post, and CBS News.

At the time, very few journalists were working in Syria because of the danger involved. He wanted to help document the events on the ground that were leading to the greatest refugee crisis since World War II. The world was not getting the story of what was happening on the ground. A former Marine Captain, Tice had training and skills that helped him work in the difficult conditions found in Syria.

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