12 April 2007 United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon today called for the immediate and unconditional release of the British journalist Alan Johnston, who was abducted in Gaza one month ago.
“His coverage of Palestinian issues has earned a great reputation worldwide. Freedom of coverage, as well as freedom of the press, should be protected as a matter of principle,” Mr. Ban said in a statement to reporters at UN Headquarters in New York.
“I sincerely hope that those who are responsible for this abduction should release him unconditionally and immediately. I will do whatever I can in my capacity as Secretary-General. My sympathy is with the family of Mr. Alan Johnston. I wish him well.”
The Secretary-General said he was “deeply concerned” by the abduction and his call for Mr. Johnston’s immediate release comes amid similar appeals worldwide and also after a message from the head of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) last week, the body that is mandated to protect freedom of expression.
Mr. Johnston, who has been living and working for the BBC in Gaza for several years, was abducted on 12 March near his office as he was returning from the Erez crossing between Gaza and Israel.