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Right-wing bloggers attack freed hostage for 'treason'

Francis Harris / London Telegraph | April 3 2006

The freed American hostage Jill Carroll arrived home after 83 days of captivity in Iraq yesterday - to a barrage of criticism from Right-wingers who accused her of showing too much sympathy for her kidnappers.

But after an emotional reunion with her family in Boston, the 28-year-old freelance correspondent for the Christian Science Monitor spoke of her loathing for the gunmen who threatened her with death "many times" during her ordeal.

She described her captors as "criminals at best" and denied allegations that she had refused to answer questions from the American military.

She also disavowed a video-taped statement made during her captivity and another which was made shortly before American troops arrived to take custody of her.

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

She said that her Iraqi translator, Alan Enwiya, had been murdered at the start of her captivity and that she remained "deeply angry with the people who did this".

Miss Carroll has been under sustained assault from some on the pro-war Right. Bloggers and hosts on the country's influential talk radio stations have attacked her for stating that she had not been threatened during her confinement.

Others attacked her for wearing Muslim dress and the news channel CNN carried an interview suggesting that she was suffering from "Stockholm Syndrome", in which victims begin to sympathise with their captors. One blogger called for Miss Carroll to be arrested for treason.

The terrorists holding her brought members of the Iraqi Islamic Party, a Sunni group, to see her. The Sunnis persuaded her to give a taped interview, which Miss Carroll said she was afraid to refuse.

"Fearing retribution from my captors, I did not speak freely," she said. "Out of fear, I said I had not been threatened. In fact I was threatened many times."

Miss Carroll's captivity has been more widely reported than that of any other American hostage but received considerably less attention than comparable dramas in Britain or Italy. Unlike most Europeans, Americans are convinced that they are at war with a relentless and inhumane enemy.

Miss Carroll's first videotape appeared to contradict that widely-held view and provoked much of the

criticism. The attacks were also stoked by a widespread suspicion among supporters of the war, from the White House downwards, that reporters from "the liberal media" are effectively allying itself with the insurgents.

President George W Bush and his senior officials have strongly implied that, by reporting terrorist "spectaculars" in Iraq while ignoring progress elsewhere in the country, the media have undermined public support at home.

Many Americans also have high expectations about the behaviour of their nationals in perilous situations.

There was widespread shock throughout the country when two Italian women hostages in Iraq, freed in 2004 for a reported $1 million ransom, expressed understanding for the insurgency.

Miss Carroll distanced herself from that kind of sentiment.

"I abhor all who kidnap and murder civilians and my captors are clearly guilty of both crimes," she said.

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