Beeb marks Alan’s Birthday
A series of events are taking place today to mark the birthday of abducted BBC journalist Alan Johnston. The BBC's World newsgathering department is holding a number of birthday vigils to mark the occasion. A birthday cake will be cut with "Free Alan Johnston" written on it in icing.
The BBC's Gaza correspondent abducted at gunpoint 66 days ago, on 12 March. Today he turns 45 and spends his birthday in captivity.
BBC Director-General Mark Thompson said: "Since Alan's abduction he has been constantly in our thoughts. It is particularly sad that he cannot celebrate his birthday tomorrow with the people close to him. Across the BBC I know there are thousands of Alan's friends and colleagues all fervently hoping that he is safe and will soon be free to return home to his family."
The Tehran Bureau in conjunction with the United Nations will hold a vigil where Frances Harrison, the BBC's Tehran Correspondent, will speak and a short statement will be read out in farsi by Mashaallah Shamsolvaezin, the head of the Iranian Journalists Association.
There will also be speeches from a representative from the UN and a statement distributed from the BBC's World Editor Jon Williams.
Staff and external journalists will also hold gatherings at the Moscow Journalists House and at the Foreign Correspondents' Club in Hong Kong where Singapore Bureau Editor Penny Richards will speak. There will also be a gathering in Ramallah.
News packages will run throughout the day on the BBC's main bulletins on TV and radio and on BBC News 24 featuring interviews and birthday wishes from family members including Alan's parents Margaret and Graham and his sister Katriona.
There will also be messages from friends, including family friend Iain Hosack who is 102 years old on the same day. BBC World will be running news items throughout the day featuring the messages and details of the various events.
There will also be a special edition of From Our Own Correspondent called To Our Own Correspondent delivered by Jon Williams.
Staff at Bush House will be receiving birthday cards for Alan from the general public and bbc.co.uk will continue its petition calling for Alan's release, featuring extra birthday messages.
Send your cards to: World Affairs Unit, Room 410SE, BBC Bush House, The Strand, London WC2B 4PH, UK. The petition has currently been signed by 93,000 people.
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