Gulf & Middle East
Journalists protest abduction of BBC scribe in Palestine
Apr 2, 2007 - 8:23:07 PM

Ramallah/Gaza, April 2 - Scores of journalists demonstrated in Gaza and Ramallah Monday to protest the abduction of BBC correspondent Alan Johnston by Palestinian militants.

The journalists, who marked exactly three weeks since Johnston was forced out of his rental car at gunpoint in Gaza City, gathered at Ramallah's central Manara square, carrying Johnston's pictures and chanting 'Free Alan.'

In Gaza City, dozens of reporters holding signs saying 'Stop Security Chaos and Lawlessness' marched to the office of Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniya, as he was convening his weekly cabinet session.

The Palestinian Journalists Syndicate - also called for a three-day media boycott of the Palestinian Authority - starting Monday.

The PJS held the rally in Ramallah jointly with the Foreign Press Association -, which represents foreign correspondents covering Israel and the Palestinian areas.

'I'm here to show support for Alan Johnston and all the journalists who take great risks to cover a difficult and dangerous story in Gaza,' said Los Angeles Times correspondent Ken Ellingwood, one of the protesters.

'Kidnappings of journalists interfere with our ability to tell the world about what is happening in Gaza. Palestinians ultimately will be the ones to suffer when foreign journalists stay away,' he said.

No organisation has claimed responsibility for kidnapping Johnston, 44.

He is the 18th journalist to be abducted in Gaza in the last two years, but has been held longer than any of the others.

In August, two journalists of the American Fox news network were kidnapped by militants in the Strip. They were freed two weeks later unharmed after saying at gunpoint that they had converted to Islam.

Britain's Sunday Times reported that a powerful Gaza clan involved in organized crime and weapons smuggling may be behind Johnston's abduction.

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