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Last Updated: Wednesday, 4 July 2007, 19:26 GMT 20:26 UK
In quotes: Johnston release reactions
Alan Johnston after his release
Alan Johnston was freed after 114 days in captivity
BBC Gaza correspondent Alan Johnston has been freed by his captors and handed to Hamas officials, nearly four months after he was kidnapped on his way home from work.

Here are some of the reactions to his release.

GRAHAM JOHNSTON, REPORTER'S FATHER

"It's a wonderful morning, I can't tell you. We got the phone call late last night from the BBC and we're absolutely overjoyed.

"It's been 114 days of a living nightmare and just to hear his voice. He telephoned us. There was a lot of noise in the background - I think he was being jostled a lot - and all he said was: 'Hello, Dad' and I: 'Hello, Son, I hear you're all right'.

"He said: 'I'm 100%'. And then the phone was cut. So that's all we've had from him so far - but we've seen him on the box and it's just incredible; it's been a long 114 days."

BBC STATEMENT

"We are delighted and extremely relieved that our friend and colleague, Alan Johnston, has been released.

"This is wonderful news for his family, friends and colleagues - and everyone around the world who has shown their support for him over the past 114 days.

"We thank all of those who worked tirelessly - here and in the wider Middle East - to secure his freedom."

MAHMOUD ABBAS, PALESTINIAN PRESIDENT

"Without a shred of a doubt we are very happy for the release of our friend, the journalist Alan Johnston.

This man's detention, and the detention of any other man anywhere, pains and harms us and the entire Palestinian people. This is unacceptable in our religion, our traditions and customs.

We are happy at his safe release and we congratulate his family and the British government and British media for his safe release."

SPOKESMAN FOR BAN KI-MOON, UN SECRETARY GENERAL

"The Secretary-General is profoundly relieved at the release.

"He pays tribute to Mr Johnston's dignity and resilience in captivity, and equally, to the professional reporting of the BBC worldwide, in which Mr Johnston has long been a gifted and reliable voice.

"[This is] a crucial reminder of the need to protect not only the freedom, but the security and safety of the media around the world."

ISMAIL HANIYA, SACKED PALESTINIAN PRIME MINISTER

"This case was a first priority for the Hamas government. We made a big effort in past months to free him. He is the friend of the Palestinian people."

KHALED MESHAAL, HAMAS LEADER

"This early morning we are, in Hamas and as Palestinians, very happy to reach this point, which is the release of Mr Alan Johnston. So our best regards and congratulations to his family, and to his colleagues in the BBC.

"From the beginning we considered the issue of Alan Johnston as a national and moral and humanitarian issue. And our message at this moment is that nobody in Palestine - especially in Gaza - is above the law.

"We hope that it will be the last kidnapping in Gaza insha Allah (God willing)."

AHMED RAHMAN, MEMBER OF FATAH AND ADVISOR TO MR ABBAS

"I send my best wishes and congratulation to my friend Alan Johnston and his family. I've known him for a long, long time.

"He is a good guy, he is a good journalist, and he works very hard in Gaza Strip and the West Bank."

GHAZI HAMAD, HAMAS SPOKESMAN

"We spent about three months in negotiations. I personally ran negotiations and talks with these people for a long time, tried to convince them that this is against Palestinian interests, it's against our principles, it's against Islam, but really they rejected all our efforts.

When Hamas came to power, and when Hamas controlled the situation in Gaza, they put hundreds of people, armed people around this armed group, and exerted pressure on these people to release Alan Johnston."

GORDON BROWN, UK PRIME MINISTER

"The whole country will welcome the news that Alan Johnston, a fearless journalist whose voice was silenced for too long, is now free.

"And I want to thank all those who contributed to the diplomatic and other efforts to secure his freedom."

DAVID MILIBAND, UK FOREIGN SECRETARY

"I am delighted that Alan Johnston has finally been released... Immediate priorities are to ensure that he is well and that he is reunited with his family who have not seen him for 114 days.

"Throughout Alan's ordeal we have seen an outstanding show of support and concern for him from around the world. The Palestinian people showed their repugnancy at Alan's kidnap.

"Palestinian President Abbas strongly condemned Alan's kidnapping and demanded that it be brought to an end. Ismail Haniya and Hamas spokesmen denounced the hostage-takers and demanded Alan's release.

"I fully acknowledge the crucial role they have played in securing this happy outcome. And hundreds and thousands of ordinary Palestinians, especially in Gaza, campaigned tirelessly for Alan's release.

"Hostage-taking is an abhorrent crime. I hope that the overwhelming support shown for Alan in the last four months has shown that all decent people believe that taking hostages can never be a legitimate means to achieve any ends."

ISRAELI FOREIGN MINISTRY SPOKESMAN, MARK REGEV

"We understand how difficult it has been for his family and friends. Israelis hoped for his safe release, just as we hope for the safe release of our own serviceman, Gilad Shalit, who has been held now by the Hamas for more than a year, as a hostage."

FRENCH FOREIGN MINISTER BERNARD KOUCHNER

"I am delighted by the release of BBC journalist Mr Alan Johnston who will finally be able to return to his family and those close to him.

"All journalists must be able to exercise their profession freely, safe from any threat.

"This favourable outcome should encourage all of the parties concerned to commit themselves to creating a climate favourable to the resumption of peace negotiations, for which I issue a fervent call."

ARCHBISHOP OF YORK, DR JOHN SENTAMU

"I am overjoyed that the prayers and hopes of so many people have been answered with this wonderful news. Most of all, I am delighted for Alan and for his family who have endured a terrible wait but whose hope has finally been fulfilled.

"Our prayers which have been so marvellously answered in Alan's release must continue for all those who still remain in captivity.

"We must continue to hope and pray for those Israeli soldiers, Palestinian activists and Iraqi citizens who remain in captivity, just as we continue to pray for peace in the wider region.

"Alan is free at last. The goodness and mercy of God has triumphed over man's inhumanity to man. For that we should all be thankful."

REPORTERS SANS FRONTIERES, PRESS FREEDOM WATCHDOG

"Seeing Johnston free and in good health is an immense relief and a great joy. During the 16 weeks he was held, we became more and more concerned at the increasingly grave threats from his abductors and the apparent inability of the Palestinian authorities to find a solution.

"We hail the international campaign waged for his release, which did not flag during all that time, and our thoughts go out to Johnston's parents and sister who showed great courage throughout this ordeal."

MANUEL HASSASSIAN, PALESTINIAN AMBASSADOR TO UK

"You can't imagine how relieved we are as Palestinians to see Alan, who has always been a friend of the Palestinian people, an objective reporter, a man with courage, a man with a heart of steel.

"When I was watching television this morning and I was looking at Alan he reminded me how powerful he is, how powerfully he's committed to his journalism, to his reporting."

MUSTAPHA BARGHOUTI, INDEPENDENT PALESTINIAN MP

"Hamas has shown two things here: First of all, they have managed to establish law and order in Gaza in a way that never happened before - and I mean by that, local law and order, regardless of the violations they made to the constitutional system.

"The second thing is that they managed to release him, and I always thought and I always said that his kidnapping was not really a political act, it was a criminal act by a group of people who wanted to achieve some kind of financial blackmail.

"I think the fact that Hamas showed at the end that they are ready to use force to release him was a very determining factor in his release."

SIR MICHAEL LYONS, BBC CHAIRMAN

"I am delighted and relieved to hear that Alan Johnston has, at last, been released, and commend the remarkable courage he has shown during his 114 days in captivity.

"Those of us who value independent and accurate reporting from around the world depend on brave journalists like Alan Johnston facing risks on our behalf."

ELAINA QLEIBOX, OXFAM WORKER IN GAZA

"[Alan Johnston] was extremely loved by everybody, because he made a point of walking and not having bodyguards, not even in the worst moments.

"He was a person who touched the people... It's like this sigh of relief.

"We are aware this will not change the reaction of the West for Hamas, because Hamas does not recognise and accept the presence of Israel, so in the last instance nothing will change.

"But it is very hopeful that there is a feeling that the situation is being controlled and without the need for the use of arms."


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