Peter Theo Curtis, the freed American journalist held captive in Syria for 22 months, has returned home to the United States.
Curtis, 45, was captured in 2012 and held by Syrian organization Jabhat al-Nusra. On Tuesday he flew into Logan International Airport in Boston from Tel Aviv, Israel before reuniting with his mother, Nancy Curtis, and his family in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Curtis spoke briefly with the press outside his mother’s home on Wednesday and said he didn’t realize so many people were working to secure his release. “I suddenly remembered how good the American people are and what kindness they have in their hearts,” he said. “To all those people I say a huge thank you from my heart, from the bottom of my heart.”
Curtis said he plans to give more details to the press about his time in captivity after spending time rebonding with his family. As a journalist himself, he said he sympathized with the many members of the press who had welcomed him home, telling them he would eventually respond to their emails.
“I’m one of you, I know what you’re going through,” he said.
Curtis’s father, Michael Padnos, told The Boston Globe he always knew his son would return home and never doubted his release for “one-billionth of a second.” Padnos, who lives in Paris and is divorced from Curtis’s mother, said his son wrote a novel during his time in captivity and will likely return to writing.
"I am overwhelmed with relief that this day has come and my son is standing beside me. But this is a sober occasion because of the events of the past week. My heart goes out to the other families who are suffering," Nancy Curtis said in a statement on Tuesday evening.
She was thought to be referring to the family of American photojournalist James Foley, whose beheading by a fighter from Sunni Muslim Islamic State (formerly known as ISIS) last weekend was posted online in a video. Another American journalist, Steven Sotloff, was shown alive in the video, with the killer threatening to take Sotloff’s life if President Barack Obama continues air strikes against ISIS in Iraq.
Curtis’s release was facilitated by the Qatari government, whom the Obama administration advised not pay a ransom. The U.S. and U.K. governments do not to pay ransom money for hostages, believing it leads to more kidnappings of their citizens.
Curtis was handed over to U.N. peacekeepers in the Golan Heights between Syria and Israel on Sunday, ABC News reports.
Curtis writes articles and books under the pen name Theo Padnos and is a freelance writer who has contributed to the New Republic, the London Review of Books and the Huffington Post, CNN reports.