BOSTON – Jill Carroll, the U.S. journalist held hostage for 82 days in Iraq, returned to the United States on Sunday aboard a commercial flight to Boston, saying, “I finally feel like I am alive again.”
The 28-year-old was accompanied on the flight by a colleague from her employer, the Boston-based Christian Science Monitor, which posted a news story about her return on its Web site two hours after her flight landed. Carroll has been kept out of view of other reporters.
“I finally feel like I am alive again. I feel so good,” Carroll said, according to the newspaper. “To be able to step outside anytime, to feel the sun directly on your face – to see the whole sky. These are luxuries that we just don’t appreciate every day.”
Carroll left the airport in a black limousine escorted by state police and arrived a short time later at the newspaper’s headquarters, where she was reunited with her parents and twin sister.
She was released Thursday after nearly three months in captivity. She was seized Jan. 7 in western Baghdad by gunmen who killed her Iraqi translator while the two were on the way to meet a Sunni Arab official in one of the city’s most dangerous areas.
Editor Richard Bergenheim said colleagues are grateful she is home safe.
“When Jill is ready, the Monitor will begin to tell her story, and we will also hold a press conference where she will speak. But we will not be making any further statements on Sunday and hope that the Carroll family’s privacy will be respected,” Bergenheim said in a statement.
Carroll left the Ramstein Air Base in southwestern Germany on Saturday after arriving from Balad Air Base in Baghdad. She strongly disavowed statements she had made during captivity in Iraq and shortly after her release, saying she had been repeatedly threatened.
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who was held prisoner for more than five years during the Vietnam War, said Carroll found herself in “a terrible, terrible position” and said Americans should view her taped statements critical of the U.S. military presence in Iraq in that context.
“We understand when you’re held a captive in that situation that you do things under duress. God bless her, and we’re glad she’s home,” McCain said Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”