American reporter Jill Carroll has been released after 82 days of captivity in Iraq. The story is just breaking — I heard it on NPR while driving to work this morning — but, at least in these early hours, the Washington Post’s Jonathan Finer seems to have the most detailed account.
Carroll was reportedly turned over to people at the headquarters of a Sunni political party by “unknown people,” according to Tariq al-Hashimi, the party’s secretary general. “She is OK. She is safe. She is more or less scared,” Hashimi told the Post. “I told her calm down and we would take care of her.”
David Cook, Washington bureau chief of the Christian Science Monitor, for which Carroll had been freelancing, told the Associated Press, “She was released this morning, she’s talked to her father and she’s fine.” Also, BBC News covers Carroll’s release here.
It had long since become obvious that Carroll’s kidnappers would have nothing to gain by killing her. The Iraqi people seemed to be genuinely appalled at her ordeal. That the incident could make such an impression when Iraqis themselves are kidnapped and murdered every day was unusual, and it may well have saved Carroll’s life.
Even so, she was in an incredibly dangerous situation, her fate at the mercy of people who couldn’t be counted on even to act in their own best interests. Her life was at risk right up until the moment of her release. After all, she had been threatened with execution on several occasions.
Just yesterday, the Monitor posted an item about an appeal that Carroll’s twin sister, Katie, had made on Al-Arabiya television. An excerpt of Katie Carroll’s remarks:
I am speaking to you today because it has been nearly two months since the last video of my sister was broadcast. We have had no contact with her nor received any information about her condition. Since that time, I’ve been living a nightmare, worrying if she is hurt or ill. There is no one I hold closer to my heart than my sister and I am deeply worried wondering how she is being treated. No family should have to endure having their loved one taken away from them in this way.
This morning, the nightmare is over.
Update: The Washington Post story has been expanded, with Ellen Knickmeyer’s byline having been added to the account. Carroll herself tells the Post: “I was never hurt, ever hit. I was kept in a safe place and treated very well.”