Reporter Freed Unharmed After Months in Captivity

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Free-lance reporter Jill Carroll has been released nearly three months after being kidnapped by gunmen in Iraq. Alex Chadwick discusses the release of Carroll, who worked for The Christian Science Monitory, with Jamie Taraby, reporting from Baghdad.


From the Studios of NPR West this is DAY TO DAY. I'm Alex Chadwick.


And I'm Madeleine Brand. Coming up, President Bush is in Mexico to talk about immigration.

CHADWICK: First the lead. This announcement from the top American official in Baghdad Zalmay Khalilzad.

Mr. ZALMAY KHALILZAD (U.S. Ambassador to Iraq): Today is a good day. I just came from meeting with Jill Carroll. She is safe. She is free and she appears in good health and in great spirits.

CHADWICK: The U.S. Ambassador to Iraq announcing the release of American journalist Jill Carroll three months after she was kidnapped in Baghdad. And earlier, Jill Carroll herself spoke to reporters about her time in captivity.

Ms. JILL CARROLL (Journalist): I'm just happy to be free. I was treated very well. It's important people know that, that I was not harmed. They never said they would hit me. Never threatened me in any way. And I was, I'm just happy to be free. I want to be with my family.

CHADWICK: For the latest on this, we're joined by NPR's Jamie Taraby in Baghdad. Jamie what do we know about the details of Jill Carroll's release?

JAMIE TARABY reporting:

We know now that Jill was dropped off near the offices of the Iraqi Islamic Party in Baghdad. And that's a Sunni political group, which is actually quite telling because she was taken after trying to interview a politician who belonged to that group. She walked into the offices and the people there rang American officials who came and collected her. And as we understand, the moment she's in the Green Zone, she is near the embassy, if not in the compound surrounding the embassy. And apparently, she's with friends and she's doing very well now.

CHADWICK: Do we know if there was any communication with her kidnappers? Was there a ransom paid or a deal made otherwise to gain her release?

TARABY: The U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad said that there were no kidnappers in custody as yet. And he also said that no one from the American mission was involved in paying a ransom. But he didn't say if a ransom was paid or not. Those details are still sketchy and we're just finding things out as the day progresses.

CHADWICK: Well, there is actually a statement from the Pentagon a little while ago that no U.S. Military Forces were involved in her release. It doesn't sound like any military forces were. The kidnappers just simply let her go out on the street.

TARABY: Yeah, it is a peculiar situation. We don't know what the motivation of the group who held her had in releasing her. It's been more than a month since the deadline that they issued has passed. They'd originally said that they want all female prisoners released otherwise they would kill her. And that was Feb. 26 and we hadn't heard a word from them since. And this has been the latest development and actually freed her.

CHADWICK: Here's a little bit more from Jill Carroll earlier today when she spoke to reporters.

Ms. CARROLL: I really don't know where I was. The room had a window but the glass was, you know, you can't see. It had curtains and you couldn't hear any sound, so I would sit in the room. I had to take a shower. I walked two feet, you know, to next door, take a shower, or go to the bathroom, come back. That's all. So, I don't know where I was or what was going on.

CHADWICK: Not surprisingly, I guess, limited freedom of movement, Jamie. But she does seem to have been treated all right.

TARABY: Yeah, she says that they gave her clothing. She had plenty of food. So, I guess in terms of good treatment, she insists that everyone understand that she was never hit or threatened, and made to feel as comfortable as possible.

CHADWICK: All right, well, she's in the Green Zone now under the best protection that can be afforded her at the moment. I presume she's flying out of Iraq at the earliest opportunity and going back to her family.

TARABY: We understand she's very anxious to see her family again. Her father's already released a statement saying how happy he is at the news. And Ambassador Khalilzad also said that she was in good spirits and anxious to get home.

CHADWICK: NPR's Jamie Taraby in Baghdad. Jamie, thank you.

TARABY: You're welcome.

BRAND: And earlier today President Bush said he too was pleased with the release of Jill Carroll.

President GEORGE W. BUSH: Really grateful she's released. And I want to thank those who worked hard to release her. And we're glad she's alive.

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