Kidnapped Reporter Jill Carroll Freed in Baghdad

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Jill Carroll is free. The freelance reporter was kidnapped nearly three months ago in Baghdad. In a television interview shortly after her release, Carroll said she is in good condition and had been treated well by her captors. She went on to say, “I’m just happy to be free. I want to be with my family.” We talk with one of her friends. [includes rush transcript]

After nearly three months in captivity, kidnapped U.S. reporter Jill Carroll has been released. Carroll is a freelance reporter working for the Christian Science Monitor in Iraq. She was seized in January outside the offices of a prominent Sunni politician in Baghdad. There had been no word from her captors in nearly two months. They had demanded the release of all women detainees in Iraqi prisons. Five out of an estimated nine women prisoners were released in January.

On Wednesday, Jill Carroll’s sister, Katie Carroll, read a statement on Arab television pleading for her sister’s safe release.

Carroll gave a brief television interview in Baghdad shortly after her release. According to the Associated Press, Carroll said she is in good condition and had been treated well by her captors. Her captors freed her by leaving her in a street near the offices of the Iraqi Islamic Party. She walked inside, and people there called US officials. Although her captors threatened twice in videotapes to kill her, Carroll said they never hit her or threatened to do so. Carroll said she was kept in a room with a window and a shower, but she did not know where she was. She went on to say: “I’m just happy to be free. I want to be with my family.”

We talk with one Jill Carroll”s friends:

  • Matt Vautour, friend of Jill Carroll. He is a reporter for the Daily Hampshire Gazette.

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This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re joined on the line by Matt Vautour a friend of Jill Carroll’s. He’s a reporter for the Daily Hampshire Gazette. Welcome to Democracy Now!

MATT VAUTOUR: Hey, thank you.

AMY GOODMAN: Your reaction to the news of Jill’s release?

MATT VAUTOUR: In a lot of ways, it’s still sinking in, but it’s certainly an overwhelming sense of just relief, absolutely.

AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about Jill? Can you talk about first what you’ve heard, how she’s been released, and then who Jill is?

MATT VAUTOUR: I’ve gotten kind of bits and pieces from different news accounts and from TV and satellite radio and everything, just trying to turn the pieces all together. I just saw the video of her that was, I guess, taken within the past couple hours, and she looks good, which is really a relief here. We had no idea what it would — what it would seem like. I knew Jill when she was a college student, and this was something that she dreamed of doing, was being a foreign correspondent and doing important work.

AMY GOODMAN: Where did she go to college?

MATT VAUTOUR: She went to the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. And so, I think now, you know, that I just — I think that was something she always wanted to do and — and I’m — I apologize, I’m not — I’m not totally composed yet.

AMY GOODMAN: We understand, and by the way, congratulations on Jill’s release just for, you know, all of Jill’s friends, I know, who have worked so hard, as well as her family. Jill went to Jordan before she went to Iraq, and Jill learned Arabic?

MATT VAUTOUR: Yeah, that — she thought that she wouldn’t be able to be as effective unless she learned to speak Arabic, and I think that that’s been kind of a well-chronicled thing about her, and I really think that in a lot of senses that served her really well. I think the outpouring of support that everybody saw from the Iraqi people and from people, that I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that she respected their culture and went out of her way to learn about it, so she could better tell their story.

JUAN GONZALEZ: In the news reports that have come out, she indicated in her — the initial statement that she had been treated well, but that she had very little knowledge of what was going on in the outside world or very much about her captors, as well.

MATT VAUTOUR: Yeah, I saw the same thing. It’s obviously early, and I’ll be paying attention all day to try to learn and see what more of that sort of thing. I think it’s kind of a little too early for me right now to comment on that. I mean, that’s, obviously, if that’s true — I can’t imagine she would lie about that, so that’s great news, absolutely.

AMY GOODMAN: Jill was an unembedded reporter?

MATT VAUTOUR: Right, yeah, no, she wasn’t with a military unit. She didn’t have bodyguards and things like that. She walked the streets and interviewed everyday Iraqis. She dressed in the traditional garb and was able to be out and talking to people.

AMY GOODMAN: And her translator, though, was killed when she was captured and kidnapped.

MATT VAUTOUR: Right. Right, yeah.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, Matt Vautour, we want to thank you very much for being with us, friend of Jill Carroll, college classmate at University of Massachusetts. Thanks so much for being with us. Again, the latest news is the freelance reporter Jill Carroll is free.

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