McClatchy reports: Austin Tice, a freelance American journalist who has contributed to McClatchy, The Washington Post and other media outlets from Syria, has been incommunicado for more than a week, his whereabouts unknown since exchanging email with a colleague.
Tice, a Georgetown University law student who served as U.S. Marine Corps infantry officer before leaving active duty in January, was one of the few foreign journalists to report from inside Syria as the civil war intensified. He entered the country in May and traveled extensively through central Syria, filing battlefield dispatches before arriving in Damascus in late July.
Tice’s reporting earned him a 2,000-strong following on Twitter, where fans of his work noted his disappearance when he stopped tweeting after Aug. 11 – when he’d recounted spending his 31st birthday listening to Taylor Swift music with rebel fighters from the Free Syrian Army.
His subsequent silence didn’t raise immediate alarm because he’d planned to leave that week, on a journey to the border that often takes days because of the fighting en route. The Damascus suburb where he was last known to have been has faced heavy bombardment in recent days, making communications difficult.
Tice’s family and colleagues are concerned for his safety and are asking anyone with knowledge of his whereabouts to come forward.
“We understand Austin’s passion to report on the struggle in Syria, and are proud of the work he is doing there. We trust that he is safe, appreciate every effort being made to locate him, and look forward to hearing from him very soon,” Tice’s parents, Marc and Debra, said in a statement from Houston, his hometown.
Tice’s editors said they were working with U.S. government agencies and Syrian intermediaries to retrace his movements. Colleagues praised Tice’s work, saying his experience as a Marine gave him particular insight into the capabilities of both government and rebel forces as the uprising spiraled into a civil war.