‘Everything Fine,’ Former Hostage Says in Interview
ANDREWS AIR FORCE BASE, Md. (AP) _ Freed hostage Frank Reed said today his kidnappers ″treated me fine″ the last six months of his captivity and that he was in good health.
″I’m beautiful, I’m OK,″ Reed said, appearing in high spirits. He said he will be through his testing next Tuesday and probably would return to his home in Malden, Mass., that same day or Wednesday ″to the real celebration of success.″
″So far everything is fine,″ he said in an interview with The Associated Press. ″I’m just getting life-giving muscles. Every muscle in my body is completely out of shape. When you stand up, you’re going against the force of gravity. I haven’t even done that very much.″ Reed was blindfolded and bound much of his time in captivity.
Later today, Brig. Gen. Robert W. Poel, commander of the Malcom Grow Air Force Medical Center, said Reed appeared to be in good shape although his muscles are weak and his weight dropped to about 140 pounds. He weighed 185 pounds before captivity.
″He’s also tired, he’s fatigued,″ said Poel, adding that Reed will probably have to wait until the end of the coming week before he can go home.
″I’ve eaten quality food but haven’t had much of it,″ Reed said. ″They treated me fine the last six months. Room service was good. We used to joke, John (McCarthy), Brian (Keenan) and I, that room service was pretty good when we got extra coffee, popcorn or something.″
Reed was held hostage with McCarthy and Keenan at varying times.
Reed is undergoing medical evaluation after returning to America and to the arms of his two grown daughters for the first time in eight years.
″Fellow Americans, because of all of you I’m alive,″ he said in thanking friends, family and fellow hostages. On Reed’s first night back, the family dined on lobster, the first thing he said he wanted when he got back home from captivity in Lebanon. Today he breakfasted on pancakes.
Reed tried to catch up on things with his daughters whom he hadn’t seen since 1982 and he was laughing again, just the way they remembered him.
Reed’s daughters, his wife and the crowd that greeted him here Friday wept as he thanked them and eloquently pleaded for the release of ″my mates left behind,″ the remaining six Americans and nine other Westerners held by Islamic militants in Lebanon. ″God, make it soon,″ he prayed.
But Iran’s foreign minister, Ali Akbar Velayati, said his country will not work to free more hostages until Israel releases hundreds of imprisoned Lebanese.
Velayati, ending a two-day official visit to Finland, demanded the United States intercede with the Israelis and make other goodwill gestures to reciprocate for the release last month of Reed and Robert Polhill.
In a statement issued in Beirut, the Iranian-backed Hezbollah blamed the U.S. government for hindering the release of the other hostages. ″The ball is now in America’s court,″ it said. Hezbollah, or Party of God, is believed to be an umbrella group for the factions holding the hostages.
In an outpouring of emotions, Reed warmly embraced Polhill, a fellow educator who was released just eight days before Reed was freed last Monday. ″We’re going to get the rest of them out, aren’t we?″ Reed whispered in his ear.
The 57-year-old Reed stepped off the small Air Force jetliner from Wiesbaden, West Germany, unsteady after losing 60 pounds and being blindfolded and chained during his more than 3 1/2 years in captivity.
The two daughters from a previous marriage, Marilyn Langston, 33, and Jacqueline Reed, 28, of Malden, Mass., went aboard the plane for a brief private reunion before the family stepped out to face the public.
Reed’s Syrian-born wife, Fahima, known as Fifi, and their 9-year-old son, Tarek, flew with him from Germany.
In a roll-call salute to his fellow hostages and their families, Reed said:
″Because Tom, Terry, John and Brian refused to let me give up, I am with you today. Because of Peggy Say, Kit and Joan Sutherland, the Keenan sisters, Pat McCarthy, and many, many others, I am unchained and unblindfolded.″
Reed had disclosed earlier that at varying times he had been held with Terry Anderson, The Associated Press’ chief Middle East correspondent and longest held hostage with more than five years in captivity, as well as Thomas Sutherland, an American University of Beirut dean, and Britons Brian Keenan and John McCarthy.
Reed’s aged mother, Leota Sprague, remained at the family’s home in Malden, but he paid tribute to her and said he was eager to visit her after his medical tests are completed.
″To every member of my family and that very special 91-year-old, beautiful mother of mine, who by example demonstrated to the world that we Reeds aren’t quitters, I love and thank you for your prayers,″ he said.
″It’s really a miracle. God has answered our prayers,″ Mrs. Sprague said from her home. ″We’re not really a crying family. That’s not how we fight (for change). We always expected him to come home, we never lost faith.″
Reed had been told repeatedly by his captors that his mother had died.
Ms. Say, Anderson’s sister, and Sen. Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts were among the non-family members greeting Reed, director of the private Lebanon International School in Beirut. Reed was kidnapped Sept. 9, 1986.
En route to the Malcolm Grow Medical Center at this base near Washington, Reed was greeted by Barbara Bush as she was about to board a flight to Kentucky.
″We’re so glad you’re home,″ the first lady told him. ″I know the president wishes he was here to meet you.″ President Bush was in Oklahoma giving a commencement address but is likely to meet with Reed soon.