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May 19, 2015 Press Conference, Beirut, Lebanon

Opening remarks by Debra Tice

Thank you all very much for coming here today. Special thanks to SKeyes and Reporters without Borders for coordinating this event.

Austin was in Syria because he believes freedom of information and freedom of expression are fundamental human rights. At a time when few western journalists were reporting from the region, it was important to him that the world hear both sides of the story and know as much as possible about the effect of the conflict on civilians - especially children and families.

We realize there is unbelievable misery all across the Levant and that my family's anguish is only a drop in that horrific sea of human suffering. Our hearts are joined with those who are experiencing this terrible pain and loss. 
So, only as a mother, I am here asking for information and for help to find my son and bring him safely home.

We know Austin is not being held by any part of the opposition. Still, after all these 1009 days, we do not know where he is nor who IS holding him. Someone, someone possibly near this place, knows something about my son and his whereabouts. I plead with anyone who knows anything at all about Austin to find a way to contact us with that information: we have a website and facebook page, or through SKeyes or Reporters without Borders.

We have every reason to believe Austin is alive. As recently as a few weeks ago, and a number of times over the past 33 months credible sources have told us Austin is alive. We are grateful to his captors for keeping him well and safe.

Can my son be allowed these days to communicate with me - by phone while I am in Beirut?

Are the holders of my son ready to meet face to face - with "One" individual (alone) and let him meet with my son, a friend of the family, and known by some Shiite leaders in Lebanon and beyond over years?

Finally, an update on what our government is doing for Austin.
For more than two and a half years, we have been urging our government to directly engage with the Syrian government to find our son and secure his safe release. We base this request on the fact that Austin went missing in Syria and the sovereign government should have the resources to search for him and to persuade his captors to release him.

Recently, the U.S. State Department issued a statement saying they are in "periodic direct contact" with the Syrian government regarding consular affairs, including Austin's situation. We think this is a good start. We are glad that the two governments are communicating directly, but more is needed! - communication must be regular and consistent.
We ask for a collaborative effort. Both the United States and the Syrian governments have told us they will do all they can to locate and safely return Austin to us. 
Because Austin is an American and because he is alive in Syria, we implore both governments to act on this commitment until we have the ONLY measure of success - Austin's safe release.

I long to hold my son in my arms. I want my family to be whole again.

Thank you.

Please join the Campaign - and help us amplify our voices for Austin's safe return.  

Click the link below, Post a Blindfold Photo,
Sign the Petition!

When Journalists are Silenced, We are all Blindfolded!freeaustintice.rsf.org

Thank you for visiting our website, and for your support of Austin and our family.  We hope you will read the latest updates to the "News about Austin" page and others. 

Counting the Days

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