CNN producer released in Gaza City

CNN producer Riyad Ali is seen in this undated picture released by CNN on Monday Sept. 27, 2004. (CNN File Photo)

NEW YORKCNN producer Riad Ali was freed and in the custody of Palestinian police today, a day after being abducted by gunmen on a main street in Gaza City, CNN reported.

CNN President Jim Walton said the station was “enormously relieved” that Ali had been released. “His ordeal serves to highlight the dangers faced by journalists around the world and we at CNN are grateful that this incident ended the way it did.”

CNN said a tape surfaced shortly before Ali’s release in which the producer said he was being held by the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, a militant Palestinian group with ties to Fatah, the group headed by Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. The Brigade had earlier denied involvement in the kidnapping, and had joined other groups in condemning it.

Ali said on the tape that he is a Druze, a minority Arab population in Israel whose members often serve in the Israeli army. He called for the Druze not to serve in the Israeli army. No demands were made.

Ali had arrived in Gaza just hours before he was seized at gunpoint from a car at about 6:30 p.m. local time yesterday. CNN colleagues, including correspondent Ben Wedeman, were also passengers in the car. A veteran CNN producer, Ali had handled a number of earlier assignments in Gaza.

Contrary to an initial report in the Israeli daily Haaretz, CNN said today that the gunmen did not beat the other members of the CNN station crew or take equipment.

CPJ is a New York-based, independent, nonprofit organization that works to safeguard press freedom worldwide.

More Information

  • Joel Campagna (x 103), Hani Sabra (x 104) or Wacuka Mungai at CPJ, 330 Seventh Ave., New York, NY 10001, U.S.A., tel: +1 212 465 1004, fax: +1 212 465 9568, e-mail:, Internet:

    Related Links

  • CNN producer kidnapped in Gaza City, CPJ (27 September 2004)
  • BY TOPIC: Press Freedom