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Iraq Transition

Jill Carroll reunites with family

Ex-hostage says she was forced to praise insurgents in video

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Jill Carroll gets a hug from her twin sister, Katie, after arriving in Boston on Sunday.

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Jill Carroll

BOSTON, Massachusetts (CNN) -- After nearly three months in captivity in Iraq, journalist Jill Carroll returned Sunday to the United States and was reunited with her family.

"I finally feel like I am alive again. I feel so good," the 28-year-old reporter for the Christian Science Monitor said Sunday, according to an article published on the newspaper's Web site.

"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 article said she and her parents and twin sister, Katie, reunited at an undisclosed Boston location amid "long hugs and joyful tears."

Carroll arrived shortly after noon at Boston's Logan International Airport aboard a Lufthansa flight. (Watch Carroll's return home -- 1:46)

"We are very grateful to all those who made this happy event possible. When Jill is ready, the Monitor will begin to tell her story," a spokesman for the paper said.

"Hopefully, the Carroll family's privacy will be respected," he said.

Upon her arrival, Carroll was taken first to the newspaper's editorial complex in Boston and from there went to an apartment to meet with relatives and friends in private.

Carroll was abducted January 7 and freed by her captors Thursday in Baghdad.

The Monitor said she was debriefed Friday by members of the U.S. Hostage Working Group in Baghdad.

She departed Baghdad early Saturday accompanied by a Monitor correspondent, a State Department official and two U.S. military officials on a C-17 military flight to Ramstein Air Base in Germany.

After her release, she was shown on video praising Iraq's insurgents, a tape she denounced Saturday before leaving Germany.

The video, made by Carroll's captors shortly before she was let go, appeared on an Islamist Web site. In it, Carroll said President Bush should stop the "illegal" war in Iraq and that the insurgents ultimately would prevail.

CNN cannot authenticate the source of the video. It is not clear when or where it was taped.

On Saturday, Carroll said in a statement released by the Monitor that she was forced to film the propaganda video as the price for her freedom. (Watch The Christian Science Monitor editor read Jill Carroll's statement -- 4:49)

In her statement, Carroll thanked everyone who worked for her release, but devoted a significant portion of the statement to defending herself against criticism regarding the video, in which she said the insurgents were "very smart" and had treated her well.

"During my last night in captivity, my captors forced me to participate in a propaganda video," she wrote. "They told me they would let me go if I cooperated. I was living in a threatening environment, under their control, and wanted to go home alive. I agreed.

"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."

She even lambasted her captors, who allegedly killed her interpreter, Alan Enwiya, when they abducted her in western Baghdad in January.

"They robbed Alan of his life and devastated his family. They put me, my family and my friends -- and all those around the world, who have prayed so fervently for my release -- through a horrific experience," she wrote. "I was, and remain, deeply angry with the people who did this."

Carroll also said that, in a television interview with the Iraqi Islamic Party shortly after her release Thursday, she was still afraid of retribution from her captors and did not speak freely.

"Out of fear, I said I wasn't threatened. In fact, I was threatened many times," she said.

Saying she wants to be regarded as a journalist, not a hostage, Carroll said she would not engage in polemics against her kidnappers, "but let me be clear: I abhor all who kidnap and murder civilians, and my captors are clearly guilty of both crimes."

Sen. John McCain, a prisoner of war in Vietnam for more than five years, had no criticism for the way Carroll handled the matter.

"This was a young woman who found herself in a terrible, terrible position, and we are glad she's home," the Arizona Republican said on NBC's "Meet the Press."

"We understand, when you're held a captive in that kind of situation, that you do things under duress," McCain said.

"I would not take them seriously, I would not, any more than we took seriously other tapes and things that were done in other prison situations, including the Vietnam war."

Carroll was working as a freelancer when she was abducted. The Monitor's editor said he hired her as a staff reporter during the time she was being held so she would be eligible for full benefits.

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