Freed American hostage speaks for first time since return

Three days after being freed by a Syrian extremist group that held him hostage for 22 months, journalist Peter Theo Curtis said he was "overwhelmed" with emotion after reuniting with his family in the United States.

Curtis, 45, of Boston, was released by al-Nusra Front, a Sunni extremist group. He spoke briefly to reporters in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Wednesday morning, thanking the hundreds of "brave, determined and big-hearted people" working for his release.

"I had no idea when I was in prison. I had no idea that so much effort was being expended on my behalf," he said.

Curtis refused to answer any questions, promising to grant interviews after he has spent more time with his family.

Curtis flew from Tel Aviv and arrived at Newark Liberty International Airport late Tuesday afternoon. He was reunited with his mother, Nancy Curtis, at Logan Airport Tuesday night.

Last week, journalist James Foley, who also was kidnapped in 2012 while covering the Syrian uprising, was killed. The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, posted a web video showing his execution.

Curtis' mother said she was "overwhelmed with relief" that her son had been returned to her. "But this is a sober occasion because of the events of the past week," she said. "My heart goes out to the other families who are suffering."

U.S. freelance journalist Austin Tice of Houston disappeared in Syria in August 2012. He is believed to be held by the Syrian government.

Curtis' former cellmate, photojournalist Matt Schrier, said he spent more than six months in captivity with Curtis until Schrier managed to escape from a small window secured with wire bars. Curtis was left behind.

Last fall, "CBS Evening News" anchor Scott Pelley and producer Graham Messick interviewed Schrier for the "60 Minutes" story 210 Days in Captivity. During that interview, Schrier shared many details about the captivity and torture that both he and Curtis endured.