DAMASCUS, SYRIA, AUG. 25 -- Freed hostage Brian Keenan, who flew home to Ireland today, said he saw American hostages Terry Anderson and Thomas Sutherland during his four-year captivity in Lebanon and that both had been well.
Keenan, 39, looking pale but otherwise physically fit, had an emotional reunion with his two sisters in the Syrian capital almost 24 hours after he was freed by his captors in Beirut.
Keenan did not say when he had seen the two Americans. He described Anderson as being comforted by a picture of his 5-year-old daughter Sulome, whom he has never seen, and said Sutherland entertained his fellow hostages with jokes and stories. He said he had seen British hostage John McCarthy two days ago, but did not mention any other hostages.
His hair cut short and his beard neatly trimmed, Keenan struggled to hold back tears as he sat between his sisters, Elaine Spence and Brenda Gillham. He read a statement to reporters, but took no questions.
"I am delighted to be with my sisters," he said, his voice breaking.
"On my way here, I thought of what I was going to do," he told reporters. "And finally, I said to myself I would eat all the food in the world, drink all the drink in the world and make love to all the women in the world, and then maybe I'll get a good night sleep."
Keenan's sisters arrived with Irish Foreign Minister Gerry Collins as well as a doctor and a nurse.They flew back to Ireland three hours after Keenan was formally turned over to Collins at the Syrian Foreign Ministry.
"I saw Terry Anderson some time ago," Keenan told reporters. "He's in good form . . . and he appreciates the letters that he received from his family."
Anderson, chief Middle East correspondent for the Associated Press, is the longest held of the 13 Westerners believed held captive by Moslem extremists in Lebanon. He was abducted March 16, 1985.
Anderson and Sutherland are among six Americans remaining in captivity, along with two West Germans, an Italian and four Britons.
Of Sutherland, 56, of Fort Collins, Colo., Keenan said, "He's well."
"He has told us an entire repertoire of jokes . . . and Dr. Sutherland is in good health and regularly exercising," Keenan said. Sutherland was kidnapped June 9, 1985.
Anderson's daughter was born almost three months after he was kidnapped. But Keenan said, "He has a picture of his daughter, Sulome, which is some great companionship for him."
Keenan said he had seen McCarthy, a reporter for the London-based Worldwide Television News, two nights ago. He said McCarthy was well. "John's good humor . . . was very much appreciated and brought in all of us who came in contact with him a real sense of the outside world," Keenan said.
McCarthy, 33, was captured April 17, 1986. The other Britons are Terry Waite, envoy of the archbishop of Canterbury, Alec Collett and Jack Mann. Waite disappeared in Beirut Jan. 20, 1987, while seeking the release of other hostages.
Anderson's sister Peggy Say, told of Keenan's comments, said, "I'm anxious to talk to Brian and to get more details about Terry's mental, emotional and physical health."
"Of course, I'm very pleased for the Keenan sisters and their family. But unfortunately, our experience has been in the past that when a single hostage is released, that doesn't necessarily mean that we are going to see another one for some time," she said by telephone from her home in Kentucky.
Keenan was handed over Friday to Syrian army officers in Beirut after a little-known group calling itself the Organization of the Islamic Dawn said he would be released. Until the kidnappers' statement Friday, no group had claimed responsibility for holding Keenan from the time he was abducted until he was freed.
The fifth Western hostage freed in as many months, Keenan was kidnapped April 11, 1986, in west Beirut while walking to the American University where he taught English. He was born in Belfast and was traveling on an Irish passport, but he has dual Irish-British citizenship.
A statement by the Irish government Friday said "everyone in Ireland is overjoyed" at the news of Keenan's release. Britain's Foreign Office said it welcomed the helpful role played by Syria and Iran in Keenan's release and looked to their "undoubted influence" to ensure the release of other hostages.
Before Keenan's release, the Organization of Islamic Dawn had issued only one other statement -- its announcement April 30 that it was releasing Frank Reed, an education administrator from Malden, Mass.
Hostage Robert Polhill of New York was freed April 22, and two Swiss Red Cross workers, Elio Erriquez and Emmanuel Christen, were released this month.