Today, breaking news revealed that after being held for nearly two years in a prison run by an affiliate of Al Qaeda in Syria, American freelance writer and Middlebury graduate Peter Theo Curtis was unexpectedly freed on Sunday after emissaries from Qatar’s government won his freedom on humanitarian grounds. While Curtis‘ relatives are not aware of the exact terms of the release agreement, they were told that no ransom was paid, in alignment with the US government’s long-standing policy not to negotiate with terrorists. This incredible event is undoubtedly a blessing to Curtis‘ family, the Middlebury community, and our nation at large, though it stands in a stark contrast to the brutal decapitation of fellow war correspondent James Foley last week, which must not, and cannot, be forgotten.
Curtis, now 45, wrote freelance journalistic dispatches under the name Theo Padnos and authored two books: “My Life Had Stood a Loaded Gun,” a memoir about teaching literature to young offenders at a correctional facility in Vermont, and “Uncovered Muslim,” investigating Islamic extremism in Yemen. Curtis was taken near the Syrian border in October 2012 by Al Nusra Front, one of the groups seeking to overthrow President Bashir Assad of Syria that also has ties to the Al Qaeda terrorist network. His 22 month captivity was kept private, at his family’s request.
After graduating from Middlebury College, Curtis, an Atlanta native, went on to earn a doctorate in comparative literature from the University of Massachusetts. He is fluent in French and Arabic, and also speaks German and Russian, according to his family.
Middbeat, as well as the entire Middlebury community, extends its relief, and love, to Curtis and his family, while continuously mourning the loss of James Foley and remaining hopeful for the many other journalists presently held captive over seas. Significant information on Curtis‘ release, captivity, and career is available — be sure to read up here, or at your preferred news source.
Also, stay tuned for exclusive Middlebury Magazine coverage of Curtis‘ release.