Press Club announces ‘Night Out for Austin’ set for May 2, 2019
November 13, 2018 | By Heather Forsgren Weaver | HeatherForsgrenWeaver@gmail.com
The National Press Club is leading an effort to double the $1 million reward for actionable information leading to the safe release of journalist Austin Tice by creating and sponsoring a Night Out for Austin set for May 2, 2019.
The Club is urging Washington-area restaurants to follow its lead and donate 50 percent of that night’s restaurant revenues to a Free Austin fund. Additionally, the Club is producing information that restaurants can post and make available to customers to educate them about Austin’s plight.
The Club has 3,100 members, Club President Andrea Edney told a Headliners Newsmaker press event on Nov. 13.
“Everybody has their favorite restaurant or their favorite two restaurants or their favorite three restaurants. We at the Press Club have them as well,” Edney said. “Before long we think there could be materials about Austin in hundreds of restaurants in D.C., Maryland and Virginia.”
Money donated from the Night Out events will be kept by the National Press Club Journalism Institute, the Club’s nonprofit organization, until directed by the FBI, Edney said. If Tice is returned without needing to use the funds, the Institute will consult with Austin’s parents Marc and Debra on how the funds should be allocated, she said.
May 2 is the night before World Press Freedom Day, Edney said.
Tice was taken hostage in Syria in August 2012. As of Tuesday, he has been held for 2,282 days, several speakers at the Newsmaker stressed.
“The United States government believes Austin Tice is alive,” said Robert O’Brien, U.S. special presidential envoy for hostage affairs.
The government does not know the reason Tice was taken but warned that “the idea that we will somehow barter for innocent Americans, like they are some sort of trinkets in a bazaar, is not going to happen,” O’Brien said.
The U.S. government is working with several helpful governments and organizations in its efforts to bring Tice home, O’Brien said without specifically naming them. He did, however, single out Iran as particularly unhelpful.
Austin’s parents are hoping to bring him home long before May 2.
Marc and Debra plan to make their eighth trip to Beirut before the end of the year. They are applying for a visa to enter Syria “to get as close to Austin as we possibly can and to try and reach out to those holding him captive,” Marc said. “We continue our relentless effort to find the key that will open the door for Austin’s freedom.”
Austin's parents have both met with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Adviser John Bolton, O’Brien said. President Donald Trump is also “aware” of Tice’s situation and he is “briefed regularly,” O’Brien added.
Edney announced that Austin, Marc and Debra Tice have all been named honorary members of the Club.