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Last Updated: Tuesday, 1 May 2007, 04:56 GMT 05:56 UK
BBC's Humphrys honours Johnston
Alan Johnston
Alan Johnston has been held captive for seven weeks
John Humphrys, a presenter on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, has paid tribute to the BBC correspondent Alan Johnston, abducted in Gaza seven weeks ago.

Receiving an award in London for news journalist of the year, Mr Humphrys said he did not deserve the honour.

He said BBC correspondents who faced danger on a regular basis, above all Mr Johnston, deserved the award more.

Earlier, European parliament members said they were told by Palestinian leaders that Mr Johnston is alive.

Mr Humphrys named nearly a dozen BBC correspondents, calling them unsung heroes who faced danger week in and week out.

"Frankly if we weren't so obsessed with personalities and celebrities they're the people who should have had the award," he said to the applause of the audience at the Sony Radio Academy Awards.

"And I know we've mentioned his name before, but would you mind awfully just standing up and remembering Alan Johnston."

John Humphrys (l) in a BBC radio studio - file photo
John Humphrys is a long-standing presenter of the Today programme
There has been no direct information on the correspondent's fate since he was seized at gunpoint in Gaza City on 12 March after leaving his office.

Earlier on Monday a 12-member delegation of MEPs were assured in a meeting with Palestinian Deputy PM Azzam al-Ahmad in the West Bank city of Ramallah that that Mr Johnston was alive.

The Palestinian authorities have indicated that his kidnappers have made new demands, but gave no details.

He said that talks with the kidnappers were at a sensitive stage as Mr Johnston spent his 50th night in captivity.

Vigils are held by his colleagues and friends in London every Monday to keep his disappearance in the public eye.

On Monday evening, an image of Mr Johnston's face was projected on the outside wall of BBC Television Centre in west London.

Mr Johnston 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.

He has lived and worked in Gaza for three years and was the only Western reporter permanently based in the often violent and lawless territory.


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