Video: "I suddenly remember how good the American people are ..."

After the butchery committed on James Foley by ISIS, the release of journalist Peter Theo Curtis from the clutches of Jabhat al-Nusra came as a pleasant shock — perhaps no more so than to Curtis himself. He made a brief media appearance today to express his overwhelming gratitude to those who worked for the last two years to win his freedom, and expressed his wonder at the goodness and kindness of his fellow Americans:

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In a brief news conference held down the road from his mother’s home in Massachusetts, Curtis said how “total strangers” have been coming up to him and telling him how grateful they are for his release.

“I suddenly remember how good the American people are and what kindness they have in their hearts,” he said.

“I had no idea that so much effort was being expended on my behalf,” he added. “I am overwhelmed by emotion.”

Curtis then explained that he needed to stay out of public view for a while in order to re-bond with his family, and therefore would be giving no interviews or taking any questions in the near future. At that point, the assembled journalists predictably began shouting questions at Curtis, to which he offered a gentle rebuke. “I’m one of you,” Curtis said, explaining that he wanted to help them “do your jobs,” but asked them again to respect his need to assimilate back into normal life. As he concluded his statement, several of them offered him congratulations on his freedom instead.

CBS news interviewed his cellmate, Matt Schrier, who escaped from the Nusra Front last year. In November 2013, 60 Minutes interviewed Schrier, who offered details about the torture that Curtis endured and the reason he didn’t make it out during the escape. The window, it turned out, was too narrow — and that led to a heartbreaking decision for both Schrier and Curtis. An earlier escape had failed, and it had cost them both:

CBS kept these parts of the show off the air at the time, but are offering them now that Curtis has been released. After watching this, hopefully journalists will understand why he needs quite a bit of time to rebuild his strength and his life before discussing his captivity with the media.

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