Reporters Without Borders

Alan Johnston released after 114 days of captivity

Reporters Without Borders is overjoyed at the news that British journalist Alan Johnston was released in the early hours of 4 July 2007 in Gaza as a result of the intervention of senior Muslim clerics and negotiations between Hamas and his kidnappers. The BBC correspondent had been held hostage for 114 days. “Seeing Johnston free and in good health is an immense relief and a great joy,” the press freedom organisation said. “During the 16 weeks he was held, we became more and more concerned at the increasingly grave threats from his abductors and the apparent inability of the Palestinian authorities to find a solution.” 

Journalists injured during Gaza demonstration in support of Johnston

Reporters Without Borders condemned the use of violence by parliamentary security guards in Gaza to disperse a demonstration today by Palestinian journalists demanding the release of BBC correspondent Alan Johnston, who has been held hostage since 12 March. Three journalists were injured in the course of scuffles. “We are outraged by this violence against journalists who had gone to express their fears and emotion about Johnston’s fate,” the press freedom organisation said. 

Deep concern about BBC correspondent after killing claim

Reporters Without Borders said it was extremely concerned about the fate of BBC correspondent Alan Johnston after a hitherto unknown group calling itself the Monotheism and Jihad Brigades issued a statement today claiming it had executed him and condemning the British and Palestinian governments for ignoring its calls for the release of Palestinian prisoners held in Israel. “We are deeply disturbed by this news but we must nonetheless remain cautious as long as there is no evidence confirming that Johnston has been murdered,” the press freedom organisation said. 

Great concern over continued detention of BBC journalist

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. 

BBC's Alan Johnston second reporter kidnapped in Gaza this year

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.” 

New TV journalists held for past month on theft charges

Reporters Without Borders has written to Lebanese information minister Ghazi Aridi urging him to do everything possible to obtain the release of New TV journalists Firas Hatoum and Abdel-Azim Khayat, and their driver Mohammed Barbar, who have been held since 19 December for entering the apartment of a key witness in the murder of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. “These journalists have been in prison for a month now,” the press freedom organisation said. “We will remain on alert until they are freed. We call on the authorities to stop considering this as a criminal case.” 

Relief at news that kidnapped AFP photographer has been freed

Reporters Without Borders voiced relief on learning that Peruvian photographer Jaime Razuri of Agence France-Presse was released in Gaza City today, a week after he was kidnapped outside the agency’s bureau. “We are extremely relieved by this news,” the press freedom organisation said. “But we call on the authorities to bring the kidnappers to justice. This is the only way to finally put an end to this series of abductions. So far, none of the people responsible for the abductions of six journalists in 2006 have been prosecuted. Letting this impunity continue will mean that other foreign journalists will be in danger of being kidnapped.” 

Journalist wounded by Israeli gunfire during raid on Ramallah

Palestinian journalist Fadi Arouri, who works for the privately-owned local news agency Maan and the daily newspaper “Al Ayyam”, was meanwhile wounded by Israeli gunfire on 4 January during an Israeli military incursion into the West Bank city of Ramallah. Aroury was shot in the abdomen but his injuries were reportedly not considered life-threatening. An RSF delegation visited Israel and the Gaza Strip from 3 to 7 December 2006 to meet with the authorities and discuss the plight of journalists, who are exposed to both Israeli gunfire and violence between the various Palestinian factions. RSF has published a report on this visit that includes recommendations for improving the security of journalists. 

Agence France-Presse photographer kidnapped in Gaza City

Every effort must be made to obtain the rapid release of Agence France-Presse photographer Jaime Razuri, a Peruvian national, who was kidnapped in Gaza City on 1 January 2007, RSF said, condemning a lack of political will on the part of the Palestinian authorities to put an end once and for all to the wave of criminal kidnappings of journalists in the Gaza Strip. “We realise that the chaotic situation prevailing in the Gaza Strip hampers law enforcement, but it is unacceptable that the government and the president do not take action to stop these kidnappings and punish those responsible, especially as the authorities are aware of their identities in most cases,” the press freedom organisation said. 

TV reporter, cameraman and driver held in connection with Hariri murder coverage

Reporters Without Borders has condemned the continuing detention of New TV reporter Firas Hatoum, cameraman Abdel-Azim Khayat and driver Mohammed Barbar, who were arrested on 19 December 2006 for entering the apartment of a key prosecution witness in the February 2005 murder of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. New TV is a satellite news station based in Beirut. “These three New TV employees pose absolutely no threat and should not have to remain in prison while awaiting the trial,” the press freedom organisation said.