The International Federation of Journalists today backed protests by Palestinian journalists calling for the immediate release of missing BBC journalist Alan Johnston with a warning that the credibility of the newly-established national unity government is at stake in the continuing hostage crisis.
Johnston was kidnapped more than a week ago when he was abducted by unknown gunmen. He has been working in the Gaza Strip for three years. He was reportedly snatched by four armed men and his hired car was abandoned.
His abduction is the latest in a series of “cat-and-mouse” kidnappings of journalists by extremists in Gaza. Normally the victims are released unharmed after a few days, but concern is growing over the case of Johnston with no news from his kidnappers.
Members of the IFJ-affiliated Palestinian Journalists Syndicate in Gaza have held protest demonstrations over the kidnapping and the case has been taken up by the National Union of Journalists in Great Britain and Ireland, also an IFJ member.
The IFJ has written to Palestinian Prime Minister, Ismail Haniyeh, asking him to step up efforts to find and liberate the reporter.
“We share the anger of Palestinian journalists that this action damages the Palestinian cause and puts press freedom under intolerable pressure,” said IFJ General Secretary in a letter to the Prime Minister. “The credibility of the newly-formed national unity government depends absolutely upon your capacity to intervene and to ensure the release of our colleague unharmed.”
The IFJ has welcomed the fact that political groups Fatah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Popular Front, Democratic Front, and other political factions have all strongly condemned the kidnapping, which aims to intimidate media and foreign journalists.
“But more needs to be done at an official level to isolate these extremists groups and to provide protection for journalists working in the region,” said White.
For more information contact the IFJ at 32 2 235 2207
The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 100 countries worldwide