Palestine: WAN protests kidnapping of BBC journalist
On 27 April 2007, WAN expressed concern for the safety and well-being of British journalist Alan Johnston.
Johnston, a BBC correspondent in Gaza for three years, was seized by masked gunmen while returing home from his office in Gaza City on the evening of 12 March. The following is the letter sent to the Palestinian authorities on behalf of the World Association of Newspapers and the World Editors Forum.
His Excellency Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh
Ramallah Palestinian Authority
27 April 2007
We are writing on behalf of the World Association of Newspapers and the World Editors Forum, which represent 18,000 publications in 102 countries, to express our serious concern for the safety and well-being of British journalist Alan Johnston.
Mr Johnston, who has been the BBC correspondent in Gaza for three years, was seized by masked gunmen while returning home from his office in Gaza City on the evening of 12 March. Although little information about his whereabouts or condition has been released since his kidnapping, on 24 April Deputy Prime Minister Azzam al-Ahmad said that Mr Johnston was alive and "in good health". Mr Johnston has now been held longer than any other Western journalist in Gaza and, despite the Deputy Prime Minister's positive remarks, the lack of detailed information on his captivity still give us cause for grave concern.
We respectfully remind you that the kidnapping of Mr Johnston seriously damages the international reputation of the Palestinian Authority. Furthermore, it is also to the detriment of the people of Gaza and the West Bank; as safety conditions deteriorate, the ability of journalists to report freely from within the Palestinian Authority is compromised and the free flow of news and information is severely limited.
We respectfully call on you to do everything possible to ensure that Mr Johnston is immediately and unconditionally released. We ask that you take all necessary steps to halt the alarming practice of kidnapping journalists so that they are able to practice their profession without fear of violence.
We look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience.
Gavin O'Reilly President World Association of Newspapers