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Last Updated: Wednesday, 4 July 2007, 14:49 GMT 15:49 UK
High emotions at BBC in Jerusalem
By Katya Adler
BBC News, Jerusalem

Colleagues at the BBC Jerusalem bureau celebrate
BBC colleagues and friends in Jerusalem have been celebrating
In this part of the world, when a work call comes in the middle of the night, it is rarely good news.

Bombs and rockets, military incursions and civilian deaths, one hears about them all too frequently.

But today was different. Head-spinningly, heart-racingly different.

Today, in the early hours, all of us in the BBC Middle East bureau received the call we had been hoping for over the last 114 days.

Our friend and colleague Alan Johnston was finally free.

I've been asked to describe our reactions and emotions when we heard about his release. It feels strange to do so.

Our brief as BBC news journalists is to remain impartial. But today is an exceptional day.

When my mobile phone rang at 0330 this morning I was on holiday in northern Israel and fast asleep in my friend's spare room.

I suddenly felt horribly far away. I jumped in my car, still wearing my pyjama shirt, and drove (more or less within the speed limit) back to Jerusalem.

Three pairs of tired but shining eyes greeted me in the bureau. Correspondents Matthew Price and Tim Franks were here, along with Jo Floto, our senior producer.

Inspirational journalist

Much hugging ensued, in a very un-British manner. We then set about reporting the Alan Johnston story.

Alan Johnston and BBC Jerusalem Bureau Chief Simon Wilson
Mr Johnston is now at the British Consulate in Jerusalem
Throughout the course of the morning the bureau filled with more and more colleagues, countless well-wishers, cameramen from other news agencies and armfuls of balloons.

During the last four months, with Alan's future so uncertain, we were frequently asked if we found it difficult to report other events in the Middle East.

Whatever we felt was nothing compared to the misery Alan's family went through. Or Alan himself, of course.

We are so glad their ordeal is over, so happy to have Alan back.

He has shown himself to be a poised, composed, balanced and inspirational journalist before, during and now straight after his kidnapping ordeal.

It is with great pleasure that we have scribbled the letter "d" on all the "Free Alan" posters that have loomed all over the BBC Jerusalem bureau for 114 days.

He has been freed.






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