Monday 16 April 2007
The last 24 hours have been a difficult time for all those who know Alan – for his colleagues at Bush House and in Jerusalem, his friends here and in Gaza, but most of all for his family in Scotland.
Yesterday, the BBC along with other news organisations in Gaza, received a claim that Alan had been killed. For more than a day now we've been seeking independent verification – and demanding urgent clarification from the Foreign Office and the Palestinian Authority. But right now, the report is simply a rumour.
Helen Boaden, our Director of News, is with Alan's parents in Scotland. If you saw them at the news conference last week, you'll know just what a remarkable family they are. They're enormously proud of Alan – and rightly so. Helen tells me they're being incredibly resilient – but clearly, the wait for news is agonising for them, as it is for Alan's colleagues in the Middle East.
Alan is a modest man. He would be surprised, perhaps even embarrassed at all the attention he's had in recent weeks. His picture is plastered all over Gaza and the West Bank. There are giant posters of him in London, Glasgow and Edinburgh. On Thursday the UN Secretary-General talked of his "worldwide" reputation – the latest in a long line of important people to say nice things about him. But the tributes that will mean the most to Alan Johnston are those from you – his friends and colleagues.
For the last month we've stood here to mark the moment Alan was abducted at this time, five weeks ago today. Last Thursday Helen called him "our boy". He is. We all want him home.
So let's spend a couple of minutes thinking about Alan and his family.