The International Federation of Journalists today called for the immediate release of two kidnapped American television journalists and condemned “cat and mouse” abductions by extremist Palestinians who take hostages for brief periods, creating a climate of fear among media trying to work freely in the West Bank and Gaza.
The IFJ called for the immediate release of two Fox News journalists – United States reporter Steve Centanni and New Zealand cameraman Olaf Wiig – who were seized on Monday by masked gunmen near the headquarters of the Palestinian security services.
“We call for the urgent release of our colleagues and an end to the appalling practice of playing cat-and-mouse with the lives of journalists and others,” said Aidan White IFJ General Secretary.
The IFJ says the latest seizures follow a pattern of hostage-taking in which foreigners have been kidnapped in Gaza by small groups seeking the release of relatives from jail, jobs or other personal favors. All have been freed within a few days without harm.
The IFJ welcomed the intervention of the Palestinian authorities and their efforts to find the Fox journalists, but said that more must be done to protect media staff. A number of journalists and others have been temporarily snatched by armed groups over the past year. No one has claimed responsibility for the latest kidnapping, and major militant groups denied any connection to the abduction.
The Palestine Journalists Syndicate, an IFJ affiliate, has also condemned the kidnappings and called for the journalists to be freed.
“Journalists in the region and around the world recognise that this criminal activity only harms the Palestinian cause and contributes to the climate of fear that has overtaken much of the region,” said White. “We just hope our colleagues are unharmed and will be released as quickly as possible.”
The car in which the journalists were traveling, marked in large letters "TV," was stopped by gunmen and a Palestinian with them was forced onto the floor at gunpoint, and the two journalists were taken away.
For further information contact the IFJ +32 2 235 22 00
The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 120 countries