June 8, 2006

Pitt-Jolie Thank Namibia for Protecting their Privacy

SWAKOPMUND, Namibia -- Hollywood stars Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt thanked Namibia on Wednesday for protecting their privacy as they finally emerged from seclusion following the birth of their daughter.

In their first press conference since they arrived in the southern African desert nation two months ago, Jolie and Pitt heaped praise on the country that has shielded them from hordes of paparazzi vying for pictures of the glamour Hollywood family.

"We are very grateful to the people of Namibia for making our time so special ... we could not have picked a better place to have our child," Jolie said at the briefing in the west coast tourist town of Swakopmund, amid tight security.

Asked if they planned to marry soon, the couple gave no answer but said that for now Pitt would focus on work while Jolie looked after Shiloh and adopted children Maddox and Zahara.

Pitt is due to begin filming on the set of Ocean 13 in July.

The couple's first biological child, Shiloh Nouvel Jolie-Pitt, was born on May 27 and instantly became one of the hottest celebrity stories of the year.

A leaked picture of the child and her proud parents on the Internet has sparked controversy and legal action by Hello! magazine, which is trying to stop sites from publishing it.

Experts say worldwide rights to the pictures could sell for anywhere from $5 million to $7 million.

Jolie and Pitt -- dubbed Brangelina by the tabloids -- sparked a media frenzy in April when they arrived in Namibia, prompting bodyguards and police to patrol roads and beaches near their luxury resort in the tiny seaside village of Langstrand.

The briefing on Wednesday was tightly controlled with only selected Namibian journalists invited to attend and photographers kept at bay on the streets outside a luxury Swakopmund hotel.

Uniformed and plainclothed police, and other security patrolled the area for gatecrashers while the selected reporters were moved as a group to the venue.

The couple are expected to return to the United States within the next few days.

(Additional reporting by Paul Majendie in London)