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Former bomb suspect says life ruined by FBI’s allegation

January 9, 1997

ATLANTA (AP) _ Richard Jewell said Wednesday his life has been destroyed despite being cleared as the chief suspect in the planting of a deadly pipe bomb during the Summer Olympics.

Jewell, a security guard during the Games, was named a suspect by the FBI three days after the July 27 bombing at Centennial Olympic Park. He was vindicated three months later by the FBI.

``I felt a little better, but I didn’t get my name back. They made a mistake and then they ruined my life, my mother’s life and my family’s life,″ Jewell said Wednesday in an interview on ABC’s ``Good Morning America″ show.

``It will never end until my good name is returned and I don’t think that will ever happen,″ he said.

In another interview Wednesday, Jewell told NBC’s ``Today″ show co-host Katie Couric that he now is referred to as the ex-suspect.

``I don’t ever hear, `That’s the one that did his job and, in doing so, possibly saved lives,‴ he said.

Jewell, his mother and two of his lawyers were in New York for the TV interviews, which also included ``Larry King Live″ on CNN Wednesday night. Jewell told King that he still did not know why the FBI suspected him.

``I would like for you to talk to some of them and maybe find out. I would really like to know,″ he said.

Last month, NBC and Jewell reached a settlement over comments anchor Tom Brokaw made on the air after Jewell was named a possible suspect in the July 27 blast. The Wall Street Journal reported the settlement was worth $500,000.

Jewell canceled interviews with two NBC shows (``Today″ and ``Dateline NBC″) one day after he was cleared by the FBI because of the planned lawsuit against the TV station and exhaustion, one of his lawyers, Lin Wood, said at the time.

``Richard would have liked to be interviewed by Katie Couric because that was the last interview that he gave before all this happened,″ Wood said. ``But he has some serious concerns about it being an NBC program.″

Jewell said Wednesday the settlement money will never make up for his lost reputation and the nightmare he lived through.

``Money can’t buy your name back,″ he said.

``People will never forget this. Never,″ Jewell told King.

``I don’t think that Richard would have put his mom and the rest of his family through this incredible hell for any amount of money,″ said lawyer Watson Bryant Jr.

Barbara Jewell said the nightmare hasn’t ended for her. Watching a replay of her August news conference during which she pleaded for President Clinton to clear her son, she broke down in tears and said, ``Every time I see it, every time I see a reporter, it all starts again.″

Jewell, 34, found the knapsack that contained the pipe bomb just before the explosion which killed one person and injured more than 100.

He was initially called a hero for alerting police and helping clear people away. But his name was soon leaked as a suspect, and he became a virtual prisoner as federal agents and reporters staked out his apartment.

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