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Timeline: Alan Johnston abduction

4 July 07 03:37 GMT

BBC correspondent Alan Johnston has been released after four months in captivity. The only international correspondent still working in the lawless Gaza Strip, he had been kidnapped on his way home from his Gaza City office on 12 March.


Alan Johnston is freed and handed to Hamas officials in Gaza. He thanked all those who had called for his release and said he had been in the hands of "dangerous and unpredictable" people.

4 July

BBC's Alan Johnston released in Gaza


Hamas security forces in Gaza seize several members of the Army of Islam - the group which claims to have abducted Alan Johnston. Hamas says the arrests were made after "all negotiation attempts... failed" to free the reporter. BBC employees hold a rally to mark the 16th week of Mr Johnston's disappearance.

2 July

Hamas arrests over BBC reporter


The captors of Alan Johnston release a new video of him in which he is wearing what he says is an explosives vest. In Gaza, victorious Hamas vows to use force to free the reporter if demands for his immediate release are not met. The UK government says the development is "disturbing". BBC staff mark his 100th day in captivity with a worldwide vigil.

24 June

Johnston in new 'bomb vest' video
20 June

Vigil for BBC captive's 100th day
18 June

Hamas issues Johnston ultimatum


Hamas says it has sent a message to the kidnappers of Alan Johnston and is taking "practical steps to secure his release". In Britain, the Archbishop of York, John Sentamu, holds a special service to mark the passing of three months since the abduction. Meanwhile unprecedented violence breaks out on the streets of Gaza, as Hamas gunmen oust the pro-Fatah security forces.

15 June

Hamas demands BBC man's release
11 June

Archbishop's service for reporter


The BBC News website highlights the plight of Alan Johnston at an annual Webby Awards ceremony in New York, saying: "Alan, we're thinking of you."


A video is released on the internet showing the first pictures of Alan Johnston since his abduction. In it, he says he is healthy and being treated well but it is unclear where and when it was recorded. The Quartet of Middle East mediators - the US, Russia, the UN and the EU - calls for the release of Mr Johnston, urging the Palestinian Authority to do everything it can to ensure his release.

1 June

Video released of BBC's Johnston
31 May

International call for Johnston's release
29 May

Plea from Guantanamo for BBC reporter


A Palestinian government spokesman and member of the militant Hamas party says Alan Johnston alive and safe. There is no way to confirm Ghazi Hamad's statement, nor his assertion that the reporter "could be freed soon". Meanwhile, signatories of an online petition calling for Alan's release pass the 100,000 mark.

27 May

Hamas man speaks of Johnston hope
21 May

BBC vigil for missing reporter


Palestinians in the UK hold a day of solidarity to highlight Mr Johnston's plight and call for his immediate release. Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini condemns the kidnapping, in the first official comments from Tehran since Mr Johnston was abducted. As well as the usual series of Monday vigils, special celebrations are held on Thursday to mark Alan's 45th birthday.

17 May

BBC marks Alan Johnston's birthday
14 May

UK Palestinians in Johnston plea
13 May

Iran condemns Johnston's kidnap


A video tape purporting to be from Mr Johnston's kidnappers is sent to al-Jazeera TV. The tape, from a group calling itself Jaish al-Islam (Army of Islam), contains no new images of him, but does include a picture of his BBC identity card. The British consul-general in Jerusalem meets the Palestinian prime minister and tells him Mr Johnston's continued captivity remains of "great concern" to the UK. The UN Commissioner for Human Rights says she is extremely distressed by the abduction. Rallies are held around the world in support of Mr Johnston, to coincide with World Press Freedom Day.

10 May

Johnston wins UK press award

Archbishop prays for Johnston
9 May

Demands issued on Johnston tape
8 May

UK envoy in Gaza Johnston talks
7 May

UN appeal for Johnston's release
7 May

Kidnap compounds Gaza's crisis
7 May

BBC man missing for eight weeks
4 May

Rallies held for BBC's Johnston


Palestinian leaders tell European Parliament members that Mr Johnston is alive, while Palestinian PM Ismail Haniya says he is working hard for his release. Britain's Tony Blair says the UK is doing all it can, and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon adds his voice to the campaign. The BBC's veteran radio presenter, John Humphrys, receiving an award for news journalist of the year, says correspondents like Mr Johnston deserved the award more. Rallies are held as far afield as Beijing and Jakarta on World Press Freedom Day.

3 May

Rallies held around world
2 May

Blair pledges to work for release
1 May

Hamas' Haniya urges release

BBC's Humphrys honours Johnston

UN calls for release
30 April

Johnston 'alive', MEPs told


The seventh week of Alan Johnston's abduction begins with vigils across the UK calling for his safe return. Christian, Muslim and Jewish representatives gather at St Martin in the Fields, a well-known London church, and Alan's sister, Katriona Johnston, joins BBC Scotland staff for a vigil in Glasgow. In Pakistan's capital, Islamabad, local journalists and foreign correspondents protest to demand the correspondent's release. Palestinian Deputy Prime Minister Azzam al-Ahmad says he believes Mr Johnston is in "good health". The EU reiterates calls for his release.

26 April

EU calls for release
25 April

Rallies held in UK and Middle East
24 April

Johnston 'in good health'
23 April

Multi-faith appeal for Johnston

Inter-faith vigil for Johnston

Johnston's sister joins BBC vigil

Vigil in Pakistan for Johnston


Anxiety about Alan Johnston's wellbeing hits a peak after the unknown militant group, the Tawhid and Jihad Brigades, claims to have killed him to highlight the plight of Palestinian detainees held by Israel. The BBC says it is unable to substantiate the claim and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas says his security forces have confirmed Mr Johnston is alive.

22 April

Palestinian website for Johnston
20 April

More action urged for Johnston
19 April

Palestinian leader says Johnston alive

Personal plea by former Gaza hostage

Journalism federation launches Gaza mission
18 April

Jailed leader urges Johnston's release
17 April

Archbishop prays for BBC Gaza man

Radio 4 story delayed for BBC man
16 April

BBC man's 'killing' not verified

Parents of BBC man plead for son

BBC Scotland vigils for reporter


Efforts to secure Alan Johnston's release continue in the complete absence of concrete information as to his whereabouts. Calls reach a crescendo as one month passes since his disappearance, with rival broadcasters coming together for a joint programme hosted in Ramallah. But the week ends with a shocking claim by a militant group that it has killed him.

15 April

BBC's concern for Gaza man's fate
14 April

Union calls for BBC man's release

Petition passes 30,000 names
12 April

Day of action for Gaza reporter

UN chief urges reporter release

Jeremy Bowen: Media united

Text: Family's letter to Alan Johnston

Statement by BBC director general
11 April

Broadcasters' plea for BBC man
9 April

BBC's man missing for four weeks


There is still no clear picture of who might be holding Alan Johnston, where or why, four weeks after he went missing. Thousands of people around the world sign a petition calling for his release.

8 April

Easter pleas for missing BBC man

Palestinians discuss BBC reporter
6 April

Gaza protest for missing reporter
5 April

UK envoy meets Hamas over BBC man
4 April

BBC users urge reporter's release
2 April:

Fresh protests for BBC reporter


Frustration on the ground increases in the third week of Alan Johnston's disappearance. Palestinian journalists voice anger at their government and presidency for their perceived lack of effort on behalf of the missing correspondent. There is still no statement from any kidnappers nor any talk of a ransom.

1 April:

Media stars back ad for BBC man
31 March:

Palestinian boycott over BBC man
29 March:

Saudi call for BBC man's release
26 March:

BBC rallies for missing reporter


Intense efforts are undertaken to secure Alan Johnston's release, amid increasing concern for his safety. Monday rallies, the day of his disappearance, become a feature in the Palestinian territories and outside BBC offices and bureaux.

25 March:

Gaza rally for BBC correspondent
24 March:

UK bishop urges Johnston release
23 March:

'All efforts' in hunt for BBC man
22 March:

Letter to Alan and his abductors
20 March:

EU working to find BBC reporter

UK presses Abbas on BBC reporter
19 March:

Father's appeal for BBC reporter


Alan Johnston's car is found abandoned in Gaza City shortly after he left his office to drive home. The BBC says it is concerned for his safety but cannot confirm Palestinian reports that he had been kidnapped. After several days it becomes clear it is more serious than past Gaza kidnappings, when hostages have been released unharmed after just a few hours or days.

17 March:

Rally for missing BBC journalist

From our own correspondent: Alan's reports
15 March:

BBC plea for Gaza correspondent
13 March:

Search continues for BBC Reporter
12 March:

Fears for BBC Gaza correspondent

Living with risk in Gaza

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