IFJ Condemns “Obscene and Shocking” Video of Kidnapped BBC Reporter in Suicide Vest

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today condemned the latest video showing BBC correspondent Alan Johnston wearing a suicide bomber’s vest, which his captors have threatened to detonate if Palestinian or British forces try to free him.

“We are deeply angered by this,” said IFJ General Secretary Aidan White. “It is an obscene and shocking video that shows utter disregard for Alan’s physical and emotional well being. His captors should release him immediately to ensure that he does not come to any harm.”

On Monday a new video was posted online showing Johnston with what he says are explosives strapped to his body. In the video he says that his captors will detonate the explosives in the event of a rescue mission.

Johnston has been held for over 100 days by a group calling itself The Army of Islam. His abduction on 12 March was the latest in a series of “cat-and-mouse” kidnappings of journalists by extremists in Gaza.

The situation for journalists in Gaza has deteriorated in recent weeks as clashes between Hamas and Fatah put journalists in the line of fire. Earlier this month, after Hamas gained control of Gaza, gunmen entered the offices of the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate (PJS), which is affiliated to the IFJ, and seized documents and computers. Since taking over, Hamas has also shut down or tried to control media outlets in Gaza.

From its offices in the West Bank, the PJS has condemned the attacks on media and journalists in Gaza and says it stands in full solidarity with colleagues there. It is also calling for the safe release of Alan Johnston.

“Like our Palestinian colleagues, we are concerned about Alan and all other journalists and media workers in Gaza,” White said. “We are calling on Hamas and other groups to remember that journalists are non-combatants and must be allowed to work safely and independently to ensure that the true story of what is going on in the region is allowed to come out.”

For more information contact the IFJ at 32 2 235 2207

The represents about 600,000 journalists in 115 countries worldwide