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Last Updated: Sunday, 8 April 2007, 11:16 GMT 12:16 UK
Easter pleas for missing BBC man
Palestinian protesters in Nablus
Palestinian journalists have been leading protests
The Archbishop of York, John Sentamu, has led Easter prayers for the release of BBC correspondent Alan Johnston, who remains missing in the Gaza Strip.

The archbishop said Mr Johnston had to be released as a way of ensuring press freedom in the future.

Prayers were also said at an Easter service in Mr Johnston's home town in Argyll, Scotland.

He was last seen in Gaza on 12 March and is believed kidnapped, but no group has claimed to be holding him.

If abducted, Mr Johnston - the only international reporter based in Gaza - will have been held captive longer than any other journalist seized there.

Archbishop Sentamu aimed his message squarely at Mr Johnston's captors, insisting that "he is not your enemy".

"He is a symbol of ensuring the freedom of the press is not violated, an issue Palestinian journalists indeed are familiar with after facing routine attacks, harassment and arrests.

"And for Alan Johnston, my prayer is that he will be released. After all, he was trying to get the story out."

Cabinet 'determined'

The Easter calls for Mr Johnston's release followed the latest day of protests and rallies in towns across the Palestinian territories.

Alan Johnston

Saturday's rallies in Ramallah, Nablus, Jenin and Gaza City were the latest in almost daily protests calling for Mr Johnston's release and urging the Palestinian authorities to do more to find him.

The Palestinian cabinet also discussed the case at a special cabinet meeting on Saturday.

They ordered security services and the interior ministry to take "all necessary measures" to secure his release.

The BBC has received thousands of messages of the support from users of the News website demanding the release of Alan Johnston.

It describes Mr Johnston as a highly experienced and respected reporter.

He joined the BBC World Service in 1991 and has spent eight of the last 16 years as a correspondent, including periods in Uzbekistan and Afghanistan.

Archbishop John Sentamu's comments in sermon

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