Image: Amanda Knox
Stefano Medici  /  AP
Amanda Knox arrives at court in Perugia, Italy, earlier this month.
updated 12/13/2009 10:01:36 AM ET 2009-12-13T15:01:36

Amanda Knox told The Associated Press from her jail cell Sunday that she is scared but hopeful eight days after an Italian court sentenced her to 26 years in prison for the murder of her British roommate.

"I am scared because I don't know what is going on," the 22-year-old American student said during a 10-minute visit by two Italian lawmakers, prison officials and a pair of reporters in Capanne prison on the outskirts of Perugia.

Knox has been jailed for two years since she was arrested a few days after the slaying of Meredith Kercher in the house the two students shared in this Umbrian university town.

"I am waiting and always hoping," Knox said, switching from English into Italian for the delegation. "I don't understand many things, but I have to accept them, things that for me don't always seem very fair."

‘Feeling horrendous’
Sitting on her bed in the 9-square-meter cell when the visitors arrived, the Washington state woman said "I was feeling horrendous" after the Dec. 5 verdict that she was guilty of murder and sexual assault.

"The guards helped me out. They held me all night," she said.

Kercher's body was found in a pool of blood with her throat slit on Nov. 2, 2007, in the bedroom of the house she shared with Knox while the two were studying in the medieval town of Perugia in central Italy. Prosecutors said the Leeds University student was murdered the previous night.

Knox's Italian ex-boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, was convicted of the same charges as her and given a 25-year-sentence. After the verdict, he was transferred to another prison. Both insist they are innocent.

In Italian jails, inmates can wear their own clothing, and Knox wore a gray-and-white-flecked turtleneck sweater, black legging pants, white socks and black slippers. Her hair was pulled back in a ponytail.

The visitors, who included a reporter from the Italian news agency ANSA, were not allowed to ask Knox questions about the trial itself.

Instead Knox spoke about her affection for her family and her determination to continue her university studies, the reason why she came to Perugia in the first place a few months before the Nov. 2, 2007, slaying.

"I believe in my family. They are telling me to stay calm," Knox said. Her family, as well as a senator from her home state, Maria Cantwell, have spearheaded a vigorous campaign to convince Italian authorities she is innocent.

The visit was arranged by Fondazione Italia USA, which promotes close relations between the two countries, in an effort to heal any rift over accusations that Italy's justice system is unfair.

In touch with professors
"My family is the most important thing for me. I also miss going to classes," she said. "I miss stimulating conversations."

She said she is in contact with her professors. "We are trying to work out how I can talk to them," she added, noting that while she can write letters from prison, e-mail access is forbidden.

Her cell includes two beds — she shares it with another woman, who has been identified in news reports as a middle-aged American. For privacy reasons, Knox declined to talk about her cellmate.

The cell also includes a private bathroom with shower, toilet and bidet.

The visitors were not allowed to bring cameras or tape recorders.

Knox said she doesn't watch TV or read newspapers. But there are TV sets in the prison.

The prison was decked out for the holidays, with Christmas trees. During a short tour, the delegation saw a hairdressers, whose services inmates can use once a week. A ping-pong table is among the recreation facilities.

The American stood the entire time of the visit, which took place shortly before lunch time in the prison.

© 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Video: Jailhouse interview

  1. Closed captioning of: Jailhouse interview

    >>> mike, thanks. it's been a full week since american exchange student amanda knox began a 26-year sentence in an italian prison after being convicted of killing her roommate two years ago. knox spoke out this morning, telling the associated press she was scared, but hopeful. this as her former boyfriend, convicted along with her, made an emotional statement in her defense. nbc's mike taibbi reports.

    >> reporter: in a week's time just a single still photo of amanda knox behind bars. now resigned, her family said after a visit, to an appeals process that could take another year.

    >> she's not down. she said she had her moments. she had her tears and now she's beyond that. she's ready to focus and she understands that it's just going to be slightly a little bit longer.

    >> reporter: in the meantime her co-defendant and former boyfriend has spoken out for the first time since he started his 25-year sentence. i was certain the verdict would mean the end of a nightmare he told an italian newspaper. amanda is not capable of killing. it's impossible and absurd. she's such a sweet girl. but two judges and a jury of six disagreed, despite knox 's last-minute plea. that she did not deserve it. instead the jury accepted the prosecution's theory of the crime as described in an animation played in court, that knox administered the fatal stab wound while her boyfriend and a third convicted defendant restrained the victim. british exchange student meredith kercher , one of her roommates. kerch kercher's brother said the family was pleased with the verdict but only to a point.

    >> as we said before at the end of the day we're all gathered here because our sister was brutally murdered and taken away from us.

    >> there are wildly different views on the quality of the evidence that led to the guilty verdicts and on whether anti-americanism might have been a factor. despite the verdict, dubbed foxy knoxy retains her faith in the italian justice system and says her rights have been respected. italian parliament member walter varini said after a visit to knox she was in good spirits and hopeful the appeal will sort things out. until then the clock will run on amanda knox 's 26-year sentence. her appeal not likely to be argued until next september, at the earliest. for "today," mike taibbi , nbc news, london.

    >> now here's jenna.

    >>> thanks. more now on the

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