The full interview with Marc and Debra Tice will be available Friday morning onpodcast and will air on CBS News at 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. ET Friday evening.
The parents of Austin Tice, an American journalist detained in Syria for nearly a decade, are “100% certain” their son is alive. Marc and Debra Tice met with President Biden last week at the White House.
In an interview with CBS News Tuesday, Marc Tice said there are “indicators” and “discussions” that give him and his wife Debra assurances Austin remains alive in captivity. They’ve also received “no word to the contrary whatsoever,” Marc said.
Freelance journalist Austin Tice, now 40, was detained in August 2012 during the civil war in Syria. His work has appeared in the The Washington Post, McClatchy and on CBS News. At the time of his disappearance, few western journalists reported from Syria because of the dangers of the war and brutality of the Bashar al-Assad regime.
Debra Tice attended the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner on Saturday, April 29. After being recognized by the association’s president (and CBS News journalist) Steven Portnoy, President Biden invited the Tices to meet with him. By Monday, Debra and Marc Tice were sitting in the Oval Office.
“It was an uplifting, informative and very collaborative kind of meeting,” Mark Tice said. “We didn’t meet the president, we met with the president and some of his top advisers. And so there was really a dialogue.”
The Tices praised Mr. Biden for his engagement on and knowledge of their son’s circumstances.
Referring to herself in the third person, Debra Tice said, “The president is very plain-speaking. Austin’s mom is very plain-speaking. And so, we plainly spoke to each other.”
In late April, Americanfrom Russia in a prisoner exchange. That such a swap could be executed during a low point in U.S.-Russia relations gave Marc and Debra Tice hope, even though the U.S. severed diplomatic relations with Damascus in early 2012.
“What the Syrians have been asking for since 2014 is the only thing we’ve asked for, which is that direct engagement,” Debra Tice said.
They note the circumstances of Reed’s captivity were different from their son’s. Still, the Tices believe a prisoner exchange with Syria — though diplomatically thorny — is the fastest way to get Austin home.
Before he became a journalist, Austin Tice served in Iraq and Afghanistan as an officer in the Marines. He graduated from Georgetown University.
After nearly a decade without their son, Marc Tice said he feels guilty enjoying life’s pleasures while Debra feels obligated to enjoy them doubly to account for “Austin’s joy.”
“There’s always a hole in the fabric of our family,” Marc said.