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Last Updated: Sunday, 27 May 2007, 04:09 GMT 05:09 UK
Hamas man speaks of Johnston hope
Alan Johnston
Alan Johnston has spent three years reporting from Gaza
The missing BBC reporter Alan Johnston is alive, safe and could be freed soon, a Palestinian government spokesman and member of Hamas has said.

Speaking at the Hay literary festival in Wales, Ghazi Hamad said he was personally involved in trying to free Mr Johnston.

"I know that he is well and healthy. No-one has tried to harm him or hurt him," said Mr Hamad.

Mr Johnston, 45, was seized on 12 March in Gaza City on his way home from work.

"I think there are continuous efforts to release him. We hope we can do it very, very soon," Mr Hamad said, adding that he knew the group holding the reporter.

He said he had received news about Mr Johnston two days earlier through his own channels.

"According to my analysis, I think it's possible to release him. I hope to make it very, very fast."

ALAN JOHNSTON PETITION
More than 100,000 people have written to the BBC to demand Alan Johnston's release

However, there has been virtually no official news about Mr Johnston since his disappearance, despite Palestinian officials speaking frequently of prospects for his release.

The abduction of Mr Johnston, the only Western reporter permanently based in Gaza, has triggered appeals for his release from lawmakers and rights groups around the world.

More than 100,000 people have now signed an online petition calling for his release.

Earlier this month, Mr Johnston was named broadcast journalist of the year by the London Press Club for his work reporting from the Gaza Strip.

The BBC has been featuring special reports and interviews with friends and family in the hope that Mr Johnston may access them on radio or television.




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