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Last Updated: Sunday, 13 May 2007, 10:26 GMT 11:26 UK
Iran condemns Johnston's kidnap
Mohammad Ali Hosseini
Mr Hosseini is the first Iranian official to comment
Iran's foreign ministry spokesman has condemned the kidnapping of the BBC's Gaza correspondent, Alan Johnston.

Mohammad Ali Hosseini said that, like anyone else, Iran did not accept kidnapping and rejected it as a matter of principle.

He is the first Iranian official to comment on the case since Mr Johnston was abducted at gunpoint in Gaza City on 12 March.

A tape allegedly made by Mr Johnston's kidnappers was released last week.

Issued by a group calling itself the Jaish al-Islam (Army of Islam), the tape showed the 44-year-old's BBC ID card, and also demanded the release of Muslim prisoners in British jails.

Media independence

Meanwhile, the International Press Institute (IPI) has renewed a call for Mr Johnston's immediate release at its world congress in Istanbul, Turkey.

The press freedom organisation adopted a resolution which said: "The IPI condemns all those who kidnap journalists and calls on them to respect the media's independence and to release their captives immediately.

Alan Johnston
Mr Johnston was due to end his three-year posting to Gaza in April

"In particular, at this time, the IPI voices its grave concern for Alan Johnston, the BBC journalist kidnapped in Gaza on 12 March, and appeals for him to be released now - safe and unharmed. The IPI calls on the Palestinian Authority to work to that end."

The organisation is among a growing number of individuals and groups calling for Mr Johnston's release.

On Saturday evening, the Archbishop of York appealed to Mr Johnston's captors to free him immediately in an interview broadcast on al-Jazeera television.

In the broadcast Dr John Sentamu stressed Mr Johnston's role in giving a voice to the Palestinian people, adding that people were suffering as a result of his abduction.

Earlier appeals for his freedom have come from Tony Blair and United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

Mr Johnston has lived and worked in Gaza for three years and was the only Western reporter permanently based in the territory.




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