SAN ANTONIO -- Neil Bennett is pastor at Churchill Baptist Church. During prayer services, he doesn't forget about his second-cousin Austin Tice.
He's still missing.
Tice is a former Marine who put law school on hold to serve as a freelance journalist in Syria. He hasn't been heard from since mid-August.
Unfortunately, he's just in a very perilous situation and a very perilous part of the world, Bennet said. We don't really know who is holding him, only that he's not been in any contact with any of his family and he's missing from the world right now.
Austin's final tweet was on August 13. He wrote about celebrating his birthday. It sounded upbeat.
In September, a video was released online. It showed a blindfolded Tice being led away by several men with weapons. Tice was praying and was clearly under duress.
Whoever is responsible for holding Austin, we certainly just hope and pray that they will recognize he means nothing but good toward the Syrian people, Bennett said. He went there because he cared about the people and their situation.
The State Department said the Syrian government has expressed Austin Tice is not currently in Syria or in Syrian custody. However, other reports indicate otherwise.
A spokesperson released this statement via email:
We are working through our Czech protecting power in Syria to get information on his welfare and whereabouts, and we appreciate the efforts of the Czech mission on behalf of our citizens. We have long expressed concern about the safety for journalists in Syria, and note that freedom of the press is one of the six points in the Annan Plan. We strongly urge all sides to ensure the safety of journalists in Syria.
Tice, a Texas native,has family in Houston.