Our family is longing for the safe return of our cherished son and beloved brother Austin, who was taken captive while working as a journalist in Syria. So many things have happened in the more than 18 weeks he has been missing. We missed him terribly at the family gathering for the feast of Thanksgiving. We are a close-knit family, sharing so many memories and traditions. Now, as we prepare for the joyful celebration of Christmas, we desperately want our family to be whole. Our hearts are heavy to think his chair may once again be empty at our family table; we dread missing his great storytelling and contagious laugh. . . .
. . . Austin has traveled widely, always eager to meet and engage the local people. He has a special affinity for the people of the Middle East; he is especially attracted to your tradition of hospitality. He deeply connects with your intense loyalty to family, faith and ideals.
A passionate and serious man, Austin has no patience for shallow and materialistic pursuits. He went to Syria to see the truth and to share the stories of its people. He wanted to experience and understand the fundamental and essential nature of their challenges. . . .
. . . Austin is just one of the many journalists taking great risks to further knowledge and understanding of other people, places and events. There is a global consensus through treaty and convention that the work of journalists is essential and should be protected and respected. . . .
. . . We urge you, whoever you are: Let Austin come home for Christmas. Let us hug him, laugh and cry with him, love him in person. Let us be a whole family again.