IFJ Calls for Safe Return of BBC Correspondent Missing in Gaza

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today called for the safe return of BBC correspondent Alan Johnston, who has been reported missing by the media company after it was not able to make contact with him.

Some media reports have said Johnston was kidnapped, but this is yet to be officially confirmed.

“We are calling for anyone who knows where Alan Johnston is to ensure his safety,” said IFJ General Secretary Aidan White. “If he is being held, we are calling on his captors to release him immediately and unconditionally.”

"We are currently unable to contact him and are concerned for his safety," the BBC said in a statement. "We are trying to gather as much information as possible."

The Associated Press (AP) said it was told by Palestinian security officials that masked Palestinian gunmen kidnapped the journalist from his car in Gaza City on Monday. They said that as he was being abducted he threw a business card on the street that identified him as Johnston.

The IFJ is backing the call from its affiliate the National Union of Journalists of the UK and Ireland for NUJ member Johnston’s immediate and safe return.

The IFJ has called for Palestinian extremists to end their use of intimidation and terror tactics against media in the region. There have been a string of recent kidnappings of journalists by such groups.

In January extremists kidnapped a Peruvian photographer working for Agence France-Presse in Gaza and held him for a week. In October, an AP photographer was abducted by Palestinian gunmen and freed later that same day. In August, two Fox News journalists were kidnapped and held for two weeks before being released.

“Holding media workers hostage is a frightening and intolerable form of intimidation that threaten press freedom and the lives of innocent civilians,” White said.

For more information contact the IFJ at 32 2 235 2200

The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 100 countries worldwide