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Last Updated: Thursday, 12 April 2007, 09:52 GMT 10:52 UK
BBC director general's statement
BBC director general Mark Thompson has given a news conference in the West Bank town of Ramallah to make a direct appeal for the release of missing Gaza correspondent Alan Johnston. Below is the text of his statement.

BBC Director General Mark Thompson in Ramallah
Mr Thompson was speaking in the West Bank town of Ramallah
It is exactly one month ago today that our colleague Alan Johnston was abducted in Gaza City while travelling home, from the BBC office to his apartment.

Alan has spent the last three years as Gaza correspondent for the BBC, living and working among its people.

He had formed many strong friendships in Gaza - and here in Ramallah - and came to be held in great affection and regard by those who know him.

He is a brave, dedicated and humane journalist who was deeply committed to reporting events in Gaza to the wider world.

Alan has now been held captive longer than any other Western hostage in Gaza. As time goes on we - his friends and colleagues - are increasingly concerned about the physical and mental toll his incarceration must be taking on him.

It is also placing untold stress on his family. Every day his parents, sister and brother-in-law in Scotland wait for firm news, with mounting anxiety.

Reporting freely

When Alan was abducted, he was in the last few weeks of his posting - a period in which he had seen Gaza become an increasingly difficult and chaotic place for journalists to operate in safely.

Because of this, Alan had been looking forward to returning to his staff post in London in the BBC World Service newsroom.

His case has attracted widespread attention from around the world. Today, I want to say thank you - to the Palestinian Journalists' Syndicate for highlighting Alan's suffering.

And to the people of Gaza for taking Alan to their hearts - and for their help in bringing pressure to bear on all those who may have influence to bring about a safe and speedy resolution to this case.

Yesterday, I met with President Abbas. He told me that he had credible evidence that Alan was safe and well.

He assured me that the Palestinian Authority is fully engaged with Alan's case and working to resolve this as soon as possible.

It is vital for all journalists to be able to report freely and without fear of harassment and intimidation. The people of Gaza are ill-served by kidnappings of this nature.

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08 Apr 07 |  Middle East
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08 Apr 07 |  Middle East

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