FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – An American teen who cut class to make a solo trip to Iraq returned to school Tuesday, then skipped his own news conference because he didn't want to face reporters.
Farris Hassan, 16, said in a statement that he had changed his mind about the media appearance, which he had organized.
"I am very thankful to be home and safe, and I am looking forward to going back to school and moving on. Thank you to everyone who was concerned about my safety," Farris said in the statement, which his sister Shehnaz read to reporters.
The statement also said officials at his exclusive prep school, Pine Crest, had "already stated all there is to say." The teen did not answer calls to his cell phone.
Farris will not be expelled, but the junior could lose his honor roll status, face community service or have points deducted from his grade point average for skipping class, said Lourdes Cowgill, president of Pine Crest, a 700-student academy in Fort Lauderdale.
Still, she appeared amazed by the boy's odyssey.
"This is probably the most egregiously interesting escapade that students have had at Pine Crest," Cowgill said. "I hope it doesn't get any better than this."
Hassan skipped school to begin his travels Dec. 11. He was able to secure an entry visa for Iraq because his parents were born there, although they have lived in the United States for more than 30 years. He didn't tell his family what he was doing until he arrived in Kuwait, where he planned to take a taxi to Baghdad for the Dec. 15 parliamentary elections.
With the Iraqi border closed for the voting, Hassan stayed with family friends in Lebanon until he could fly into Baghdad on Dec. 25.
He contacted The Associated Press bureau in Baghdad on Dec. 27 and related his story. Hassan said he had recently studied immersion journalism — in which a writer lives the life of his subject — and wanted to understand better what Iraqis are living through.
"I thought I'd go the extra mile for that, or rather, a few thousand miles," he told the AP last week.
He left Iraq on Friday and returned home Sunday. His parents have also promised punishment. A message left Tuesday on his father's cell phone was not returned.