BBC holds global rally for Alan
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BBC holds global rally for Alan

The BBC is inviting journalists around the globe to call for Alan Johnston's release at a rally taking place tomorrow, World Press Freedom Day, in New York. Neither the BBC, nor his family, have had any contact from him since being abducted at gunpoint in Gaza City on 12 March.

The rally will be led by the BBC's World Editor Jon Williams. It starts at 7pm UK time – at the Ralph Bunche Park opposite the UN Plaza in New York (2pm local time).

On the same day Alan's colleagues in the BBC's 41 bureaux — in 38 different countries — will also demand his immediate and safe return. Alan spent three years living and working in Gaza — the only western journalist to do so — and was within two weeks of completing his assignment there.

He is now the longest-held journalist in Gaza, previous journalists have been released after a number of days or weeks.

The BBC's Director-General Mark Thompson says: "Alan Johnston is a remarkable, courageous journalist who stayed in Gaza because he believes the story of Gaza needs to be told. He has done so with humanity, but also objectivity – one of an extraordinary group of people who remain in the world's trouble spots when everyone else is getting out, and who sadly face increasing danger right across the world.

"Seven weeks after he was abducted, we want Alan home, safe and well."

Similar rallies have taken place in London, Gaza, Beirut and elsewhere. On Monday (30 April) Alan's image was projected on to the BBC's Television Centre in London and 50 balloons released to mark the 50th night since his abduction.

More than 65,000 people from around the globe have signed an online petition to call for his release.

Alan Johnston's family issued this statement: "This is a desperately worrying time for us. We make a heartfelt appeal to anybody who may have knowledge of Alan's situation and wellbeing to contact the authorities in Gaza.

"Our son has lived and worked amongst the people of Gaza for the last three years to bring their story to the outside world — and we ask every one of them to help end this ordeal."

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0 0 367 02 May, 2007 Industry News 12:07 pm 20075 Wednesday, May 2nd, 2007

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