Freed US re­porter’s Dad praises son’s noble cause

The Covington News - - WORLD -

JOINVILLE-LE-PONT, France (AP) — The over­joyed fa­ther of the Amer­i­can jour­nal­ist freed by Is­lamic mil­i­tants said Mon­day that his son and oth­ers who ven­ture into dan­ger­ous lands like Syria de­serve praise for want­ing to “bear wit­ness ... tell the truth about what’s go­ing on.”

Michael Pad­nos, who lives on a boat out­side Paris, said in an in­ter­view with The As­so­ci­ated Press that the in­ter­minable search and wait for his son had been like “hunt­ing for bats in a dark, black cave.”

Theo Pad­nos spoke to his mother in Bos­ton Sun­day night “for less than a minute” but said he was “happy to be back in the civ­i­lized world and see some girls,” ac­cord­ing to the fa­ther’s ac­count.

An uniden­ti­fied Amer­i­can with the jour­nal­ist ini­tially spoke with Pad­nos’ mother, Nancy Cur­tis, but told her that “he is too up­set to talk ... right now.” He called her in the even­ing, ac­cord­ing to the fa­ther.

It wasn’t clear when Pad­nos would re­turn home to Bos­ton. He was ap­par­ently in Tel Aviv, where he was driven af­ter be­ing re­leased Sun­day in the Golan Heights, a week af­ter the be­head­ing of an­other Amer­i­can jour­nal­ist, James Fo­ley, an act that was video­taped and posted on the In­ter­net.

His fam­ily said they be­lieve their son was cap­tured in Oc­to­ber 2012, shortly af­ter cross­ing into Syria.

He was held by Jab­hat al-Nusra, also known as the Nusra Front, ac­cord­ing to U.S. Sec­re­tary of State John Kerry. The al-Qaida-linked group is fight­ing the regime of Syr­ian leader Bashar As­sad.

Michael Pad­nos brushed aside de­lays in his son’s re­turn.

“They say they’re go­ing to bring him back when he’s ready to travel,” Pad­nos said.

“The main thing is he’s safe ... That’s the only thing that counts for me,” he said, call­ing his son Theophilus, his birth name.

Theo Pad­nos changed his name to Peter Theo Cur­tis be­fore leav­ing for Syria some two years ago for safety rea­sons, his fa­ther said, not­ing he had writ­ten a book “Un­der­cover Mus­lim” af­ter in­ves­ti­gat­ing the se­cre­tive Is­lamist world in Ye­men, pre­tend­ing to be a deeply re­li­gious Mus­lim.

The jour­nal­ist’s fa­ther said the risky life of his son, whom he de­scribed as an “itin­er­ant jour­nal­ist,” made him fear­ful.

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