- The Washington Times - Monday, April 3, 2006

BOSTON (AP) — Journalist Jill Carroll was back on U.S. soil yesterday, tearfully embracing her parents and twin sister after 82 days as a hostage in Iraq that she said gave her a deep appreciation for the myriad simple joys of freedom.

“I finally feel like I am alive again. I feel so good,” Miss Carroll said. “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.”

The 28-year-old Christian Science Monitor reporter arrived at Boston’s Logan International Airport just after noon and was quickly driven away in a police-escorted limousine to the newspaper’s headquarters.

She didn’t step out into public view, but reports on the Monitor’s Web site, along with photos, showed a joyful and tearful reunion with her parents and twin sister.

Miss Carroll has said her kidnappers confined her to a small, soundproof room with frosted windows before she was released Thursday after nearly three months in captivity.

She was seized Jan. 7 in one of Baghdad’s most dangerous neighborhoods, near where a Sunni Arab official had agreed to meet her for an interview that never took place. The gunmen who abducted her killed her Iraqi translator.

She was accompanied on the flight by Monitor colleagues, who described her seven-hour flight back to the U.S.

Miss Carroll was touched to find a red rose on her dinner tray, the Monitor reported. She was tickled to see pictures of her family and kissed the photo of her father, Jim Carroll.

“He looks good,” she said, and ran her fingers over the photo of her mom, Mary Beth, the Monitor reported.

Editor Richard Bergenheim said colleagues were grateful Miss Carroll was home and 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,” Mr. Bergenheim said.

In a video recorded before she was freed and posted by her captors on an Islamist Web site, Miss Carroll spoke out against the U.S. military presence. On Saturday, she said the recording was made under duress.

Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican, who was held prisoner for more than five years during the Vietnam War, said Miss Carroll found herself in “a terrible, terrible position.”

“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,” he said yesterday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

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