Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), the Senate majority whip, took to the Senate floor Friday afternoon to focus on the plight of imprisoned journalist Austin Tice.
Tice, a freelance journalist (CBS, BBC, NPR), has been held in Syria since Aug. 14, 2012. Tice is the only American journalists still held captive in Syria, according to Reporters Without Borders.
Reporters Without Borders also has an online petition to the President asking him to use all diplomatic means to secure Tice's return as part of its #FreeAustinTice social media campaign, which also includes a "Blindfold Pledge," in which individuals take and post photos of themselves in blindfolds to make the point that when journalists are silenced, everyone is deprived of information.
Cornyn called on the current and new administration to do all it could to see that he is freed. The following is a transcript of the senator's floor statement:
Mr. President, recently I met with the parents of Austin Tice, a constituent of mine in Texas who has unfortunately been abducted in Syria a few years ago. And of course his parents have been keeping a flame alive, hoping that Austin has survived the circumstances of his capture.
They traveled over from Houston to visit with me about a briefing that they had received recently from James C. O’Brien, the Presidential Envoy for hostage affairs. Just earlier today I had a chance to be briefed by Mr. O’Brien, and he delivered positive yet cautious news about Austin.
Mr. O’Brien and his team informed me that they have high confidence that Austin is alive in Syria along with other Americans who are being held captive. While this is certainly positive news, I can't help but think of his parents and what they have had to go through these last four years. They're not just counting the months, they're not just counting the days, but they're literally counting the minutes and the seconds since he's been gone and then counting those milestones that we typically observe in our families, birthdays and holidays that they will never recover.
So today's news should remind us that we cannot give up until we bring Austin Tice home. I renew once again my call for his immediate release by his captors, and I strongly urge the current and future Administration to continue to utilize all possible means to secure his safe return.