Great concern over continued detention of BBC journalist

Palestinian journalists protest in Gaza the kidnapping of BBC correspondent Alan Johnston, 30 March 2007. (Wesam Saleh/MaanImages)

Reporters Without Borders today voiced its serious concern about the continued detention in the Gaza Strip of British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) reporter Alan Johnston and appealed to the Palestinian Authority president and prime minister to take a tougher line with his kidnappers to obtain his release.

“He has now been held for 21 days, longer than any other journalist kidnapped there. This is a turning-point for media workers in the Strip, many of whom have stayed away since the recent clashes there between Fatah and Hamas supporters, since armed groups use foreign journalists as bargaining chips with the authorities.

Fifteen foreign journalists have been kidnapped in the Gaza Strip since last August. Most were freed quickly without being mistreated but two Americans among them were held for more than two weeks.

Palestinian journalists have campaigned vigorously for Johnston’s release with demonstrations and strikes, including protests today in Ramallah and Gaza.

Johnston, the main BBC correspondent in Gaza, was seized on 12 March by armed men who stopped his car as he left his office for home and forced him to follow them. No demands have been made public since then.

Related Links

  • Palestinian journalist’s letter to Alan Johnston, Sami Abu Salem writing from the Gaza Strip, occupied Palestine (28 March 2007)
  • BBC reporter still held two weeks after kidnapping, Al-Haq (26 March 2007)
  • Al Mezan condemns the kidnapping of BBC journalist, Al-Mezan (13 March 2007)
  • BBC’s Alan Johnson second reporter kidnapped in Gaza this year, Reporters Without Borders (12 March 2007)
  • BY TOPIC: Press Freedom