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Former Captive Patricia Hearst Empathizes With Elizabeth Smart

Former Captive Patricia Hearst Empathizes With Elizabeth Smart

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NEW YORK (AP) -- Kidnapped newspaper heiress Patricia Hearst said she understands why Elizabeth Smart would have been unable to escape from her captors.

"You have been so abused and so robbed of your free will and so frightened that you believe any lie that your abductor has told you," Hearst told CNN's Larry King on Thursday. "You think that either you will be killed if you reach out to get help or ... your family will be killed."

On Feb. 4, 1974, when she was a 19-year-old college student, Hearst was kidnapped by the radical Symbionese Liberation Army. She eventually joined the group and helped them rob a bank; she was captured, convicted and sentenced to seven years in prison.

She was later pardoned by President Clinton for her role in the bank heist.

Authorities said Thursday that Elizabeth, now 15, was increasingly forced to depend on her captors during her nine-month disappearance. When found by Utah police Wednesday, she vehemently denied her identity when asked if she was Elizabeth Smart and told officers that the couple she was with were her parents.

"You have absorbed this new identity that they've given you," Hearst said.

Hearst, now known formally as Patricia Hearst Shaw, also said abductees become psychologically dependent upon their abductors.

"Many times, people who have been held hostage say, They really were nice to me,"' she said. "But what they really means is,Thank God they didn't kill me."'

She said Elizabeth's family should keep the girl away from the news media.

"The experiences she's gone through have changed her," Hearst said. "She's never going to be the same trusting person. She's going to be very suspicious."

Hearst's father, Randolph Apperson Hearst, was the son of legendary newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst. Since her release from prison, she has appeared in several movies and television sitcoms, written novels and done charitable work.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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