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AP reporter held captive for years, Terry Anderson, dies at 76


Terry Anderson was a journalist best known for headlines that included his own name. Anderson, who died Sunday at 76, was the chief Middle East correspondent for the Associated Press when he was kidnapped by militants in Lebanon in 1985.


Nearly seven years later, on the day after his release in Beirut, Anderson spoke to reporters in Damascus.


TERRY ANDERSON: You just do what you have to do. You wake up every day, and you summon up the energy from somewhere, even when you think you haven't got it, and you get through the day, and you do it day after day after day.

MARTIN: Anderson was abducted by Hezbollah while on a day off from covering Lebanon's Civil War. Mort Rosenblum was the AP's chief international correspondent at the time.

MORT ROSENBLUM: Reporters weren't seen as hostile. I mean, all sides of a conflict sort of saw reporters a bit naively, I'm afraid, as someone who could pass their message along to the rest of the world. Now, these days, you know, reporters are grabbed up on purpose.

MARTÍNEZ: Rosenblum recalls how he and other AP reporters and editors wore aluminum bracelets engraved with Anderson's name. He was in an AP newsroom when he learned Anderson would be released.

ROSENBLUM: A colleague came rushing up to tell me, and I got up, oh, my God, I took the - I still have it. I took the bracelet off. I mean, I was just so happy.

MARTIN: After Anderson's return to the U.S., he worked as a professor at several universities, he gave speeches and he took a stab at some non-news jobs like operating a blues bar, a cajun restaurant and even a horse ranch.

MARTÍNEZ: Anderson rarely acknowledged his suffering in captivity. In fact, he made jokes when reporters asked about the 2,454 days he spent as a prisoner, often in chains without edible food and on the move from hiding place to place.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: What were your last words to the kidnappers?

ANDERSON: Goodbye.


MARTIN: Sulome Anderson wrote about her father's trauma and her family's experience in the book "The Hostage's Daughter." She spoke with NPR in 2016.


SULOME ANDERSON: My father was so convinced that he was fine, and he was so good at ignoring the damage that this has done on his psyche. I would say he didn't even admit it to himself or start really processing his emotions until I started writing this book.

MARTIN: Sulome Anderson says her father also did not like being called a hero, although many persisted in thinking of him that way.

MARTÍNEZ: His former colleague, Rosenblum, says Anderson believed in journalism as a mission, and the AP's executive editor, Julie Pace, says Terry Anderson will be remembered for his bravery and resolve.

(SOUNDBITE OF ERLAND COOPER'S "HOLM SOUND") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

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