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1991: Last US hostage freed

VIDEO : Terry Anderson speaks after his release

Terry Anderson, the last and longest-held US hostage in Lebanon, has been freed.

He will now be reunited with his fiancee and their six-year-old daughter, Sulome, a child he had never seen before he was kidnapped six and half years ago.

His family faced an agonising wait after news of his impending release.

Mr Anderson, who was the Associated Press bureau chief in Beirut at the time of his kidnap, was due to travel through Lebanon to Syria but was delayed by snow today.


"I have thought about this moment for a long time"

Terry Anderson

The delay created confusion and tears as his family wondered if it was another false alarm.

But the former US Marine staff sergeant later emerged before a packed news conference in Damascus looking well.

He said he had been informed of his release the previous afternoon and given a new set of clothes and shoes - his first since he was snatched off the street by an Islamic militant group on 16 March 1985.

"I have thought about this moment for a long time," he said.

"Now it is here and I am scared to death. I do not know what to say."

He thanked Syrian, Lebanese, and Iranian authorities for securing his release and paid tribute to his family, friends and the thousands of well-wishers who had worked tirelessly to secure the hostages' release.

Mr Anderson said he spent his time in captivity listening to the radio, mainly the BBC which he praised.

He also read whatever magazines and newspapers were available.

Before his release he was ordered to read out a statement from his captors regarding the situation in Lebanon.

Mr Anderson will now be taken to the American military hospital in Wiesbaden, Germany, where two other US hostages, Joseph Cicippio and Alan Steen, have been since their release earlier this week.

On being the longest held American hostage, he said: "It is an honour I would gladly have given up a long time ago."

German hostages Thomas Kemptner and Heinrich Struebig remain in captivity.

In Context
Terry Anderson lives in the US.

He wrote his memoirs, Den of Lions, in 1993 and taught journalism for three years, before he retired in 2001.

He sued Iran, blamed for backing his captors, through the American courts for damages and was awarded a multi-million dollar package.

The money was paid out of frozen Iranian assets.

With some of his settlement Mr Anderson co-founded the Vietnam Children's Fund, which has built schools in Vietnam, and gave an endowment to the Father Lawrence Jenco Foundation which supports charitable causes in Appalachia in the eastern US.


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