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BBC’s Alan Johnston thanks Palestinian journalists for campaign to free him

BBC Monitoring

Text of report in English by Palestinian Ma'an News Agency website

Bethlehem - Ma'an: Former BBC Gaza correspondent Alan Johnston has thanked Palestinians for their part in the campaign to get him released.

Forty-five-year old Johnston was kidnapped at gunpoint by a group called the Army of Islam on 12 March and held for 114 days before being released.

Ina statement issued on Monday [13 August] he said: "I was lucky enough to have a radio during my captivity, and I was able to follow the development of the campaign that you mounted on my behalf. I heard about the demonstrations staged by journalists and civil society organizations across the Palestinian territories, as well as the petitions and the various other means used to keep attention focused on my plight. And your campaign was hugely successful in that it ensured that my case was always a priority in the eyes of the authorities. I am, as you can imagine, immensely grateful.

"The kidnappers were showing me a very dark side of human nature. But across the Pa! lestinian territories people like you were demonstrating all the friendship and hospitality and kindness to visitors that I had come to know and very much respect in Palestinian culture during my three years living in Gaza," he added.

In response, Na'im Tubassi, president of the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate, said that a wing has been dedicated to Johnston in the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate to create an archive for all the letters, statements, pictures and protest activities carried out by Palestinian journalists in the campaign to free him.

Source: Ma'an News Agency website, Bethlehem, in English 13 Aug 07



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