Reporters Without Borders voiced concern today after British journalist Alan Johnston, who has been the BBC’s correspondent in Gaza for more than three years, was kidnapped by gunmen near his office this afternoon as he was returning from the Erez Crossing between the Gaza Strip and Israel.
“We call for the immediate release of this journalist, who has lived and worked in the Palestinian territories for years,” the press freedom organisation said. “We urge both President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh to react at once to speed up his release. A response from all of us is essential.”
Reporters Without Borders added: “The grim series of abductions of foreign journalists continues in the Gaza Strip without the authorities so far finding a way to bring it to an end. None of the people responsible for kidnapping journalists since 2005 has been arrested or tried. This impunity encourages potential hostage-takers to act.”
The Palestinian security services said four gunmen abducted Johnston, who had time to leave his business card in the rental car he was using.
Just over three months separate this abduction and that of Peruvian photographer Jaime Razuri of Agence France-Presse, kidnapped on 1 January and freed a week later. A total of 14 foreign journalists have been kidnapped in the Gaza Strip since 2005. Most of them were freed quickly without being hurt. Two journalists with the US television network Fox News were held the longest — two weeks.