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.