Video of kidnapped BBC journalist released

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Alan Johnston in an undated BBC photo

A video has been released by the captors of Alan Johnston, the BBC Gaza correspondent who was kidnapped on March 12, 2007. Johnston has been missing longer than any foreigner kidnapped in the Gaza Strip.

Johnston was shown in the video to be wearing a red sweatshirt, and seemed to be in good health. The video appeared on the internet site Al-Ekhlaas, often used by Islamic militants. It bears the logo of the Army of Islam, the Palestinian militant group that had been believed to be holding the 45-year-old reporter, and opened with Arabic chanting and verses from the Quran.

In the video Johnston stated: "They [the captors] have fed me well, there has been no violence towards me at all and I'm in good health." Johnson called for an end to Western sanctions against Palestine and also blamed Israel for all the problems that the Palestinian people was enduring.

The BBC made a petition for Johnston's release, and has now been signed by over 130,000 people. The video ended with Johnston about to outline conditions for his release, only to have the tape cut away to an as yet unidentified voice in Arabic demanding freedom for Islamic prisoners, including a radical cleric with ties to al-Qaeda imprisoned in Britain.