Casey Anthony has broken her 7-month silence ... telling CBS 5 in AZ that she's determined to move forward with her life -- and the station insists Casey wasn't paid a single cent for the interview.
The 26-year-old agreed to a phone interview from her Florida home on Friday under the condition that the reporter ONLY ask her about her bankruptcy situation.
"This is the next step towards closure for me," Anthony explained.
Anthony was also asked about a pending lawsuit filed by a woman named Zenaida Gonzalez who claimed Casey had defamed her when she told cops in 2008 that a fake nanny named "Zenaida Fernandez Gonzalez" kidnapped her daughter, Caylee.
Gonzalez is suing Anthony for unspecified damages. Anthony told CBS 5 she hoped that case (and two other pending lawsuits against Anthony) would be behind her by now.
"These are the things holding me back," Anthony said. "This is the key for me to move forward."
Casey also gave the station a couple of recent photos -- showing her hanging out with her legal team back in August.
The reporter who got the interview later released a statement ... saying, "TO BE PERFECTLY CLEAR... Anthony and/or her legal team are not, have not and will not be paid or compensated in any way by me or my news organization. Nor have I personally received any financial consideration in relation to this story.”