Release Alan Johnston now!
This week is BBC correspondent Alan Johnston’s third week in captivity in the Gaza Strip. According to The Independent, Johnston has now been held longer than any other hostage in two years of kidnappings in the Strip.
BBC reporter Alan Johnston was seized from his car by unknown kidnappers as he drove home from his office in Gaza City a fortnight ago. Nothing has been heard from him since then. Despite the alleged efforts of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, nothing is known about Johnston’s whereabouts. According to Reporters Without Borders, however, local sources claim that the Palestinian authorities know the identify of his kidnappers.
Condemned by reporters everywhere
The kidnapping has been met by protests from reporters and journalists everywhere. Reporters Without Borders today urged the Arab League to issue a joint appeal for Johnston’s release, and the Palestinian journalists’ syndicate in Gaza, has held several demonstrations in Mr Johnston’s support.
I wholeheartedly support Reporters Without Borders’ call on the Palestinian authorities to conduct negotiations with the kidnappers as quickly as possible so that Johnston can be reunited with his family. Kidnapping journalists is not only a severe blow to freedom of speech, it is plain stupid. Kidnapping a reporter always backfires at the responsible group, which forever will be labeled as “terrorists”. In this case, no group has claimed responsibility for the kidnapping. In combination with the rumors that the authorities know who is behind the abduction, this makes the Palestinian authorities look extremely bad. If the rumors are false, then the authorities will look weak and out of control. If the rumors are true, the terrorist label applies to the authorities as well as the actual kidnappers.
It is therefore in the best interest of both the kidnappers and the Palestinian authorities to do everything in their powers to make sure that Alan Johnston makes it home safely as soon as possible. In short: Release Alan Johnston NOW!