In a video, recorded before she was freed and posted by her captors on an website, Carroll – a freelancer for the Boston-based Christian Science Monitor – spoke out against the US military presence in Iraq.
But in a statement on 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 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 US military transport plane on her way back to the United States and was expected in Boston on Sunday. The Islamic headscarf she wore as a hostage was gone, and she instead wore jeans and a gray sweater.
“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”
The 28-year-old journalist was seized on January 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 organisation, and later escorted by the US military to the Green Zone, the fortified compound in Baghdad protecting the US 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 US military, and two – that I refused to discuss my captivity with US officials. Again, neither statement is true.”
Carroll has said her kidnappers confined her to a small, soundproof room with frosted, opaque windows.
After a day in seclusion, she left Balad Air Base near Baghdad on Saturday on a plane also carrying several wounded soldiers. Carroll smiled and peered with bemusement through the cockpit window at the dozens of television cameras on the tarmac at Ramstein Air Force Base.
Carroll says she was forced to
“I’m happy to be here,” she said to Colonel Kurt Lohide, the US officer who greeted her.
Carroll, who had studied Arabic and was widely respected for her balance and fairness as a reporter, attracted a huge amount of sympathy during her ordeal, and a wide variety of groups in the Middle East, including the Islamic militant group Hamas, appealed for her release.
Aside from the short interview aired on Iraqi television upon her release, Carroll had otherwise not shown herself in public prior to her brief appearance on Saturday.
The kidnappers, calling themselves the Revenge Brigades, had demanded the release of all female detainees in Iraq by Febuary 26 or Carroll would be killed. US officials did release some female detainees at the time, but said it had nothing to do with the kidnappers’ demands.
In the video posted on a website on Friday, her abductors said they freed Carroll because “the American government met some of our demands by releasing some of our women from prison”.
In the video on the website, Carroll called on George Bush, the US president, to bring American troops home.
“Tens of thousands … have lost their lives here because of the occupation,” she said in the video. “I think Americans need to think about that and realise day-to-day how difficult life is here.”
She said the insurgents were “only trying to defend their country … to stop an illegal and dangerous and deadly occupation”.
In her statement on Saturday, however, 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.