VIENNA, Austria – The teenager who made a dramatic escape after 8 1/2 years of captivity in a windowless cell has agreed to a televised interview this week, giving Austrians their first glimpse of the young woman whose nightmare has fascinated the nation.
Public broadcaster ORF will air its interview with 18-year-old Natascha Kampusch on Wednesday evening, although she will be "shielded" in some way to ensure she is not recognizable on the street, her media representative, Dieter Ecker, said Monday.
Kampusch has been besieged by hundreds of requests for interviews since she bolted to freedom on Aug. 23, but so far she has agreed to grant only three: the one to ORF, another to the mass-circulation daily Kronen Zeitung, and a third to the weekly magazine News, Ecker said.
"For Natascha Kampusch, it was natural that the Austrian people — who have feared for her life for eight years and have celebrated her escape — should get the details first," he said.
Media experts predicted record ratings. But ordinary Austrians hoping for a glimpse of Kampusch were likely to be disappointed: Organizers said she would appear on TV behind a screen in silhouette or, at most, in camera angles taken from behind or over her shoulder to respect her privacy.
Kampusch, who was 10 when she was abducted on a Vienna street in 1998, escaped while her captor, Wolfgang Priklopil, stepped away to talk on his cell phone while she was cleaning his car in suburban Strasshof. Priklopil committed suicide hours after her escape by throwing himself in front of a train.
So far, a public hungry for details has been shown only photos taken before her kidnapping or computer-generated likenesses of what she supposedly looks like now.
This week's prerecorded TV interview was to run at least 20 minutes and be preceded three hours earlier by a live round-table discussion with leading psychologists and other experts.
ORF said Monday it did not pay for the interview — the first word from Kampusch since she issued a statement last week from the secret location where she has been recuperating and helping investigators piece together details of her abduction and captivity.