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Carroll says threats forced her comments in captivity

Associated Press
Published April 2, 2006


RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany - Protected by the U.S. military and far from the country where she had been held hostage, Jill Carroll strongly disavowed statements she had made during captivity in Iraq and shortly after her release, saying Saturday she had been repeatedly threatened.

In a video, recorded before she was freed and posted by her captors on an Islamist Web site, Carroll spoke out against the U.S. military presence. But in a statement Saturday, she said the recording was made under threat. Her editor has said three men were pointing guns at her at the time.

"During my last night in captivity, my captors forced me to participate in a propaganda video. They told me I would be released if I cooperated. I was living in a threatening environment, under their control, and wanted to go home alive. So I agreed," she said in a statement read by her editor, Richard Bergenheim, in Boston.

"Things that I was forced to say while captive are now being taken by some as an accurate reflection of my personal views. They are not."

Carroll arrived in Germany on Saturday on a U.S. military transport plane on her way back to the United States and was expected in Boston today.

The 28-year-old journalist - a freelancer for the Christian Science Monitor - was seized Jan. 7 in western Baghdad by gunmen who killed her Iraqi translator. She was dropped off Thursday at an office of the Iraqi Islamic Party, a Sunni Arab organization, and later escorted by the U.S. military to the Green Zone, the fortified compound in Baghdad protecting the U.S. embassy and other facilities.

In the statement, Carroll also disavowed an interview she gave to the party shortly after her release. She said the party had promised her the interview would not be aired "and broke their word."

"At any rate, fearing retribution from my captors, I did not speak freely. Out of fear, I said I wasn't threatened. In fact, I was threatened many times," she said. "Also, at least two false statements about me have been widely aired: One, that I refused to travel and cooperate with the U.S. military, and two, that I refused to discuss my captivity with U.S. officials. Again, neither statement is true."

She condemned her captors, although she did not address the war in Iraq.

"I want to be judged as a journalist, not as a hostage. I remain as committed as ever to fairness and accuracy - to discovering the truth - and so I will not engage in polemics. But let me be clear: I abhor all who kidnap and murder civilians, and my captors are clearly guilty of both crimes," she said.

In her statement, Carroll thanked those who had helped secure her release and said she wanted time to recover.

"I ask for the time to heal. This has been a taxing 12 weeks for me and for my family," she said. "Please allow us some quiet time alone, together."