Petitions for release of kidnapped BBC Gaza journalist

MUMBAI: More than 1,000 people from around the world have added their names to the petition calling for the release of kidnapped BBC Gaza correspondent Alan Johnston. 350 people have also posted messages of support on the BBC News website.

The petition was opened on 2 April 2007 to anyone wishing to express their support for Johnston at:

It was launched in Monday's Guardian newspaper when 300 leading figures from the journalistic community called for Johnston's immediate release.

Johnston was last seen on the afternoon of 12 March 2007 and has worked in Gaza for three years. Meanwhile the head of the United Nations body mandated to protect press freedom called for the release of Johnston.

When a journalist is abducted, the whole of society is taken hostage,” UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) DG Koïchiro Matsuura said in a statement.

“In view of this increasingly disturbing situation, I call on the authorities to do their utmost to obtain his release as quickly as possible. I wish to commend the determination and courage of journalists who continue to do their work despite the growing frequency of such abductions”.

“We must all mobilise to put an end to these heinous practices that constitute a serious threat to media professionals and also to freedom of expression. All too many abductions have taken place recently, in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as in Gaza. Not all these kidnappings have ended in bloodshed, but they remain intolerable and must not go unpunished.”

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