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Alan Johnston freed

Jon Williams Jon Williams | 10:16 UK time, Wednesday, 4 July 2007

Calls in the middle of the night are something of an occupational hazard for a journalist. Never have I been more pleased to be woken as I was at 1.36 this morning. It was the newsdesk with a line of copy from a news agency. It read:


It was the end of a nightmare. 114 days after he was abducted, Alan is free. Over the last 16 weeks, more than 200,000 of you have signed our online petition, thousands more have added your comments to our Have Your Say website.

Alan JohnstonAs he crossed from Gaza early this morning, Alan told me how he'd drawn real support from the knowledge that so many people were showing their solidarity - how he felt a duty to get through it to show their support was not misplaced. Typical Alan.

But your support was vital in sustaining not only Alan and his family, but also his colleagues, who, for the past 16 weeks, have rallied in a show of solidarity. And not just on the BBC News website.

For 14 of his 16 weeks in captivity, Alan had access to the BBC World Service. The messages from the listeners to World Have Your Say were an enormous source of strength - particularly those from former hostages like Terry Waite, John McCarthy and Brian Keenan who recorded birthday wishes for a special edition of the programme earlier this year.

In launching the BBC's Annual Report (PDF link) yesterday, the BBC Director General Mark Thompson said that the BBC depends on people like Alan - on their courage and integrity and conviction.

Since his release, Alan has conducted a series of media interviews (listen here) in his usual calm and composed way, displaying all of these qualities in his reporting - the same qualities that will help him through the difficult days he will now face as he re-adjusts to normal life. From all of us at the BBC - to all of you who played your part in helping secure Alan's freedom - thank you.


  • 1.
  • At 10:45 AM on 04 Jul 2007,
  • J Harriman wrote:

Alan Johnstons release.

What brilliant news! Please let Alan know that we were delighted to hear such good news this morning when we woke up. We have followed his story closely over the last four months and are over the moon he has been released unharmed. My very best wishes to him,his wonderful family and the BBC.

  • 2.
  • At 11:03 AM on 04 Jul 2007,
  • Tim wrote:

great news, now lets make it even better, get Maddie back

  • 3.
  • At 11:08 AM on 04 Jul 2007,
  • Bedd Gelert wrote:

Oh, I have tears in my eyes !

Wonderful World Service radio - and to think that only a few years ago there some eejits that wanted to cut back the funding on this gem of the BBC. "Well, that'll learn 'em.." Thank goodness John Tusa stood his ground.

Right, now I'm off to listen to his interview with Jim Naughtie - it may be raining outside but this has put a smile on my face

  • 4.
  • At 11:16 AM on 04 Jul 2007,
  • FionaC wrote:

After the traumatic past few days, its just great to have such good news. I'm so pleased for his family who have been so incredibly dignified throughout the whole ordeal. I send my best to him and his family.

  • 5.
  • At 11:22 AM on 04 Jul 2007,
  • Timothy Oxley wrote:

I heard the news on BBC News 24 this morning and said a little quite prayer of thanks for Alan's safe release. We send him our prayers. This is a day of great rejoicing. I would like to pay tribuer to the BBC and all who worked to keep his desire for freedom alive.

  • 6.
  • At 11:35 AM on 04 Jul 2007,
  • Hosam Badr wrote:

News of Alan's release literally brought tears to my eyes. As an Arab his abduction had become a source of embarassment. I hope the BBC governers re-think funding for BBC World Service. For me it was my regular morning staple as a child in Cairo. For Alan it was a beacon of hope in a time of darkness. I can only hope that Alan's predicament and release can be used as a spring board for renewed focus on the plight of journalists in the world today.

  • 7.
  • At 11:41 AM on 04 Jul 2007,
  • Vicky wrote:

That's amazing! Welcome back Alan...and thoughts with your family whose relief must be immense. :-)

Just brilliant news!

And thanks to BBC and all concerned. Also let's be thankful for the change in language evidenced over the last week or so. Is it wrong to congratulate Alex Salmond for initiating the clear distinction between criminals and communities? I think it may be so.

Peace is possible, inshallah!


  • 9.
  • At 11:46 AM on 04 Jul 2007,
  • NIcki wrote:

Fantastic news . Best wishes to Alan and his family . I hope they will be allowed some peaceful time together to rejoice in his freedom .

  • 10.
  • At 11:48 AM on 04 Jul 2007,
  • rajesh wrote:

Its really Good to see Alan as a free man. I must also appreciate the way BBC website kept reminding of Alan everyday. Of course, in bacḱ of mind there was always a curiosity about development towards his release. My wishes to him and his family.

  • 11.
  • At 11:59 AM on 04 Jul 2007,
  • Nicholas Dalby wrote:

Congratulations, Alan.
This truly is a fantastic news story for any news network, not just the BBC. And more behind the scenes, in Gaza it also looks as though (at least on the face of it) things are continuing to get a lot more stable. Alan Johnston dealt with his situation and now release with upmost dignity, I just hope now he relaxes, takes time out to reflect before contuining his marvellous work for the BBC. I do know he was supposed to be moved from Gaza shortly after his kidnap, but I do hope he feels compelled to stay there and report on the continuing developments, as he truly is the best in the business.
Thanks should also be made to CNN, Al Jazeera, Sky and the people of the UK for their contribution for the appeal for his release.

  • 12.
  • At 12:08 PM on 04 Jul 2007,
  • Inger Denhaan wrote:

So relieved that Alan is free. And already he is speaking with the same balanced and informed authority, reassuring Palestinians that he is well aware of their innate hospitality and refusing to tar everyone with the same brush. I am looking forward to his reporting again, from the UK or Palestine.

I'm glad you've got your man back, it must be such a relieft to his friends and family.

Perhaps now the BBC might give a little thought to the 5 British men kidnapped in Iraq last month, about whom we have since heard almost nothing.

  • 14.
  • At 12:12 PM on 04 Jul 2007,
  • Andrew Stewart wrote:

It was great to get up this morning and hear some good news.

Well done Alan on coming through this ordeal and to everyone who helped secure his release.

  • 15.
  • At 12:14 PM on 04 Jul 2007,
  • Chris W wrote:

I was awake at half past one this morning and was shocked to see the Breaking News alert appear on my desktop with such a headline. I didn't go to bed until 3.30am as I was watching the BBC news website slowly evolve! Woke up this morning (well, 12pm!) and it's amazing to see how the news has slowly crept into people's homes and the world has started to react.

Excellent news!! And well done to Alan Johnston for being amazingly British and representing this country so well upon his release.

  • 16.
  • At 12:15 PM on 04 Jul 2007,
  • Joe wrote:

Lying in bed this morning thinking how i really should get up for work, i found myself listening to an interview on radio 4. I was drifting in and out of sleep, when suddenly i realised who's voice it was!

I sat bolt upright, listened harder.. wondering, "had he been released?"

Then it was confirmed... Alan Johnston, released.

Oh my! I just laughed... such fantastic news! I'd thought about Alan so many times over the past 4 months, hoping that he'd be alright... if i am this happy that he's free and safe, i cant begin to imagine how ecstatic he must feel.

Well done for being so strong Alan, you're an inspiration to us all.

  • 17.
  • At 12:17 PM on 04 Jul 2007,
  • Scott wrote:

Absolutely brilliant news - Im sure Alan's family must be ecstatic! Welcome home Alan, I wish all of these types of story ended as well as this.


  • 18.
  • At 12:21 PM on 04 Jul 2007,
  • Ann Harrison wrote:

The best 7a.m news bulletin I have listened to in ages.. God bless Alan and his family

  • 19.
  • At 12:22 PM on 04 Jul 2007,
  • Ms Willie Holvast wrote:

Congratulations to all the BBC on this great day. You must all be so relieved your collegue is free and allright.

  • 20.
  • At 12:30 PM on 04 Jul 2007,
  • Sarah wrote:

I have followed this story closely and was so happy to see that Alan has won his freedom finally.
I also thought it a measure of his humanity that he paid tribute to the warmth of the Palestinian people among whom he lived for 3 years, and drew a sharp contrast with his kidnappers.
I hope that Alan recovers from his ordeal and gets back to what he does best- reporting the news.

  • 21.
  • At 12:32 PM on 04 Jul 2007,
  • Rupert RG wrote:

Wonderful news.

Once the dust has settled, could a special programme be made about what happened for him to be kidnapped in the first place and how he came to be released. While, like everyone, I'm delighted that he's free and safe, I'm very confused about what happened any why.

  • 22.
  • At 12:35 PM on 04 Jul 2007,
  • Claire wrote:

I am just so happy that Alan has finally been released and well done to each of the BBC staff who kept remembering him.

Lets hope he can enjoy some private and quality time with his family now x

  • 23.
  • At 12:39 PM on 04 Jul 2007,
  • crycilda wrote:

It’s a great moment to rejoice! I wish Alan a very warm welcome.

  • 24.
  • At 12:54 PM on 04 Jul 2007,
  • Malcolm Jolly wrote:

Excellent news, my wife & I were thrilled to hear of Alan's release on the BBC this morning.

  • 25.
  • At 12:55 PM on 04 Jul 2007,
  • Pete Macleod wrote:

Best news in a week of nothing but bad.
Alan's safe return is a wonderful high point and restores a little of my belief of decency in human nature.

I've just watched the interview with his parents, and again the quiet dignity both Graham and Margaret have shown throughout nearly brought me to tears, as the little interview with them on Alan's birthday did.
'Keep you chin up, son.' It struck me as a particularly inspiring thing to say.
Sincere best wishes for them all.

  • 26.
  • At 01:02 PM on 04 Jul 2007,
  • Helen wrote:

A text from my dad told me the happy news this morning. I ran to the TV and felt tearful with happiness when I saw the footage of Alan being released.

All credit to Alan and his family for staying so strong throughout this terrible ordeal. I hope you can enjoy some quiet time together now.

  • 27.
  • At 01:05 PM on 04 Jul 2007,
  • Steven Roberts wrote:

Great news for him, but did we have to hear about nothing else on BBC Breakfast this morning?

I sense a bias in the editing given the journalistic connection.

  • 28.
  • At 01:09 PM on 04 Jul 2007,
  • Catherine wrote:

Shame BBC World missed the announcement at 2am GMT despite the fact it had been in the public domain for 24 minutes by then. The next ten minutes of the programme were shambolic. I imagined you would have been better prepared given that Alan is a BBC employee and so much effort has gone into campaigning for his release. All the best to him, regardless.

  • 29.
  • At 01:16 PM on 04 Jul 2007,
  • Ayo Thompson wrote:

To be honest, I hadn't really noticed Alan Johnston as a reporter, but I sat up and took notice when he was kidnapped. What joy for his family and colleagues that he has been released alive and unhurt! And what relief for his public that he can now continue to report. Have a good rest, Alan, then, if you choose go back to what you do best: reporting. Thank God you're OK, may God bless you and your family!

Fantastic news that Alan is finally free. This whole episode was very harmful to the Palestinian cause, but it is finally over. A lot of pressure from within the Palestinian community did the job, by the sounds of it.

  • 31.
  • At 01:37 PM on 04 Jul 2007,
  • Azeem Khan wrote:

best news i have heard all day. I am so happy he has been released. I was praying for him and so happy that he is free today. Thank GOD.

  • 32.
  • At 01:40 PM on 04 Jul 2007,
  • Mike wrote:

Fantastic news!

Well done for coming through the ordeal with such professional pride and integrity.

I smiled and I felt fulfilled while reading the news this afternoon that one of my favourite journalist mentors who has been in captivity for so long has finally been freed. Wow! It's a lovely day for me.
Welcome back to normal life Alan Johnson! Have fun with your family and colleagues.
I can't wait to read your logical report.I would spread the news.

  • 34.
  • At 01:40 PM on 04 Jul 2007,
  • Adam wrote:

In a world where hero-worship is generally directed towards vacuous celebrities who have done nothing to deserve their fame other than appearing on some mindless TV show, it makes such a heartwarming change to be reminded what a real hero is. The dignity and calmness Alan has shown in the face of such an unbelievably horrific experience is a shining example to us all.

Welcome back!

  • 35.
  • At 01:53 PM on 04 Jul 2007,
  • Meher wrote:

Thank God! Excellent news. Also thanks to Hamas, we all need to realise they want peace,not terror.

  • 36.
  • At 01:55 PM on 04 Jul 2007,
  • Pablo Garrido wrote:

In so many instances today, journalists stand as the only sober eyes in a world gone mad.

With the campaign to release Alan, and his ultimate release - the world spoke with a single voice that we need journalists like Alan Johnston in this world, now more than ever.

Bless Alan, his family and all those who worked so tirelessly to arrange for his release.

  • 37.
  • At 02:27 PM on 04 Jul 2007,
  • John wrote:

Such joyful news. His composure is remarkable. I'm overjoyed. I hope he adjusts easily.

  • 38.
  • At 02:38 PM on 04 Jul 2007,
  • Derek Trouserbridge wrote:

Great news. However, as a subscriber to the BBC News website's "breaking news" text message alerts, can I inquire why I was texted when Paris Hilton was released from captivity, but not when Alan Johnston was?

  • 39.
  • At 02:54 PM on 04 Jul 2007,
  • Sophie wrote:

Amazed at Mr Johnston's continuing professionalism where the rest of us would be gibbering wrecks!

Thrilled that you've been released - I got all teary eyed when I saw the headlines.
I wish you and your family well and hope that you come through any trauma quickly.

  • 40.
  • At 02:59 PM on 04 Jul 2007,
  • John wrote:

I am pleased that Alan Johnston has been released. Looking ahead, I hope that the circumstances of this release will not influence and further compromise BBC reporting from the mid east. Already I see the beginings of "aren't Hamas wonderful, they freed Alan, so they're much better than fatah." Let's not forget this is an organisation which deliberately targets rockets at civillian areas, carries out suicide bombings of crowded buses with babies on board and holds hostages for much longer than Alan Johnson was held. The BBC may be grateful to Hamas (their intention?) but this should not be allowed to influence reporting and senior editors should ensure that it does not.

  • 41.
  • At 03:06 PM on 04 Jul 2007,
  • Kathy wrote:


  • 42.
  • At 03:13 PM on 04 Jul 2007,
  • jazzone wrote:

Will (13) the five men kidnapped in Iraq have disappeared off the BBC news schedules and everyone else's for their own safety. It would be unwise to add any further detail to that.

Catherine (28) the reason the BBC were well behind the Reuters newsflash is that they stuck to their policy of contacting Alan's family before running with any stories about him.

  • 43.
  • At 03:16 PM on 04 Jul 2007,
  • Sophie wrote:

There are simply no words to describe this wonderful conclusion!!

  • 44.
  • At 03:21 PM on 04 Jul 2007,
  • Meloshini wrote:

I think Hamas needs peace but the west blocks it from becoming a peacefull movement by imposing sanctions on them.

  • 45.
  • At 03:41 PM on 04 Jul 2007,
  • Adeem wrote:

As a Palestinian and a Gazan female Journalist , i am soooooooooo So relieved to see a fellow journalist Free.

Alan is not only a Journalist but he is a hero of Journalism ,as we could see even in the most difficult times he was as proffessional as he was before his captivity.

I wish you all the best Alan , and Please don't hate us And we all aplogize for what happened to you ..

we are waiting for you to visit us again here In gaza , your second home.

  • 46.
  • At 03:49 PM on 04 Jul 2007,
  • Miranda wrote:

This is such wonderful news. I saw the news while sitting with my tea and laptop this morning and called out to everyone in the house the fantastic news. Welcome home, Alan. And thank you, BBC, for remembering Alan daily while he was in captivity. Please all of you take care of each other. We depend on you for all the stories, but you are each more important than the story.

  • 47.
  • At 03:56 PM on 04 Jul 2007,
  • Chris wrote:

Waking up to news of Alan's release this morning was the best news I've had for a while. Welcome home Alan.

  • 48.
  • At 04:05 PM on 04 Jul 2007,
  • Nadia wrote:

Thank God! Finally some good news.It was wonderful to see Aln Johnston free and smiling.The dignity with which he behaved is a model for us all.

  • 49.
  • At 04:11 PM on 04 Jul 2007,
  • Claude wrote:

Thank the lord. He is freed. After all the bad news we've been having lately it is such joy to hear.

  • 50.
  • At 04:16 PM on 04 Jul 2007,
  • Richard wrote:

What fantasic news!

Welcome back Alan. I hope that you and your family have a wonderful reunion.

Safe journey home.

  • 51.
  • At 04:18 PM on 04 Jul 2007,
  • Valerie Hedley wrote:

Delighted with the news of Alans' release.
Well done and thank you Hamas.

  • 52.
  • At 04:22 PM on 04 Jul 2007,
  • Janet wrote:

At last sense has prevailed in a troubled country. Congratulations for the way in which he held himself on his release and best wishes for the future to him and his family.

  • 53.
  • At 04:30 PM on 04 Jul 2007,
  • Georges Abou Adal wrote:

I am so glad Alan has been released.
I am so happy for him, his family and for the BBC Staff.
God Bless you Alan. I hope to see you back on TV shortly !


  • 54.
  • At 05:14 PM on 04 Jul 2007,
  • Paul wrote:

We were so pleased to see Alan freed. The best news of the week for him and his family and friends.

But why did his captors have to "rough him up a bit" just before his release... had he not been through enough... I cannot begin to imagine what goes through these peoples minds..

Great conclusion. Whatever the reason behind Alan's release there's every reason to cherish.

  • 56.
  • At 05:28 PM on 04 Jul 2007,
  • Lucas Fernando wrote:

Such a good news!
I'm delighted to hear that Alan is free at last.
Mr. Johnston, let me say that although you won't read this message I want to tell you: "Congrats! You're starting a new life by now."

I'd also signed the petition and I can imagine how happy the BBC staff is since Alan's release.
BBC looks like a very big family across the world, and I'm joining you all to celebrate.

Thanks God.

  • 57.
  • At 05:38 PM on 04 Jul 2007,
  • Ramadan wrote:

Great news. I wish the west will acknowledge this move as a new sign of peace from Hamas. Well done hamas

  • 58.
  • At 06:03 PM on 04 Jul 2007,
  • Marianne - Copenhagen wrote:

What an emotional day. I Finished reading Mariane Pearl's "A mighty heart" this morning, and then logged on to the BBC, to learn, with so much joy, of Alan Johnston's release.
Unlike Daniel Pearl, Alan Johnston's equally inspiring voice can once again be heard, and he and his familiy can finally look forward again.
I wish them all the best in their future, and may they be inspired by the strong and clever Mariane Pearl, ín their efforts to deal with the past and move on.

  • 59.
  • At 06:17 PM on 04 Jul 2007,
  • Lynda wrote:

Welcome home Alan!

I had hardly dared imagine that he would be seen alive again. This is wonderful news and fair play to Hamas for the part they played in his release.

  • 61.
  • At 06:37 PM on 04 Jul 2007,
  • Ammar Jadallah wrote:

As a Palestinian American I am ashamed of the actions of few who did a terrible thing in the name of Islam/Palestine.

I am so glad to see a ray of hope in Alen's release.

  • 62.
  • At 07:06 PM on 04 Jul 2007,
  • Sayed Bukhari wrote:

Alan Johnson's release is a agreat rejoycing moment. I am absolutely delighted for him and his family. This is a victory for the BBC's calm cool and collected approach and indeed a positive effect of the new style of government of Gordon Brown and his new cabinet. Both of them deserve congratulations.

  • 63.
  • At 07:27 PM on 04 Jul 2007,
  • Ian wrote:

Great news- and lets hope this recent involvment of Hamas can lead to more peace.

  • 64.
  • At 07:31 PM on 04 Jul 2007,
  • Diane wrote:

Many of us in America are also relieved and happy for Alan Johnston and his family. I've been following his abduction from the start, and never imagined he would be released. Needless to say, I'm so happy he was. Welcome back Alan!

i told you here when alan was still in captivity that we in uganda were praying for him and that God would here our prayers and bring him back to us safe and sound. I'm overjoyed our prayers were accepted. we gladden in your return alan.

  • 66.
  • At 07:45 PM on 04 Jul 2007,
  • Maureen wrote:

sooooo glad he's home!

  • 67.
  • At 07:50 PM on 04 Jul 2007,
  • Ayo Thompson wrote:

To be honest, I hadn't really noticed Alan Johnston as a reporter, but I sat up and took notice when he was kidnapped. What joy for his family and colleagues that he has been released alive and unhurt! And what relief for his public that he can now continue to report. Have a good rest, Alan, then, if you choose go back to what you do best: reporting. Thank God you're OK, may God bless you and your family!

  • 68.
  • At 08:10 PM on 04 Jul 2007,
  • David Jones wrote:

Like everyone else, I'm pleased that Alan Johnston has been released. Now he's free, I think it's now not inappropriate to point out the way in which the BBC has worn 2 hats here - as an employer understandably trying to use its influence to get its employee released, and as, supposedly, an impartial source of news. For myself, I did feel rather uneasy about some of the BBC's activities; and a previous correspondent has suggested the BBC's editorial line on Hamas has been influenced by this news (I don't know if this statement is justified).

If AJ reads this, I'm sure he'll appreciate I'm raising a serious question about journalistic ethics rather than cavilling about his release.

  • 69.
  • At 08:14 PM on 04 Jul 2007,
  • Maureen Calgary wrote:

he's back - he held on and made it - congratulations

  • 70.
  • At 08:17 PM on 04 Jul 2007,
  • sasa wrote:

Whilst I wish Alan a satisfactory slide back into the obscurity that he (and his family) desire, I also hope that he can share with us (especially those of us who rely on the BBC World Service) his new perspective on life in the world.

God speed Alan through the next chapter.

  • 71.
  • At 08:20 PM on 04 Jul 2007,
  • Maureen Calgary wrote:

he's back - he held on and made it - congratulations

  • 72.
  • At 08:44 PM on 04 Jul 2007,
  • lkeith wrote:

its great to hear of his release, i have been monitoring Allan's situation from the onset. its good to see that those qualities that have been characteristic of the Allan Jonhston we have grown to know and love have been retained. all the best to you and your family Allan.

  • 73.
  • At 11:45 PM on 04 Jul 2007,
  • Nick Mayhew wrote:

I love this guy.

I didn't know much about him before he was kidnapped but it became increasingly obvious he had just been trying to report the truth in a very difficult and dangerous place.

His comments on release show that he has lost none of these virtues. Thank God for people like Alan.

  • 74.
  • At 12:17 AM on 05 Jul 2007,
  • Bill D'Arcy wrote:

Dear Alan,

I write from Canberra to report that at the Salutation Inn last night we cheered and cheered and clapped and clapped and imbibed many a Celtic Dancing Juice to mark your survival.

Good news is hard to find these days. Yours is good news of the most splendid kind.

My very best to you.

From one scribe to another.

Bill D'Arcy

  • 75.
  • At 01:13 AM on 05 Jul 2007,
  • Ben Shenton - Ballarat Victoria wrote:

This is wonderful. A man of integrity who has values and a sense of responsibility are rare gems. Diamonds are created by great forces and so this ordeal seems to have only shaped an formed an already amazing person who cares about people regardless of their professing political and religious background. We need more people like Alan Johnson. I have followed his story with interest and I am delighted that sense has prevailed. My prayers are with him and his family and to the hope that a solution can be found in the Holy Lands.

  • 76.
  • At 01:21 AM on 05 Jul 2007,
  • Jo'Anna Finlay wrote:

I've followed this saga from afar (Australia), signed the petition, and every day hoped that this fine journalist would soon be released. For a chap that I've not ever met, I am so incredibly happy for him, his family and his colleagues. Brilliant!

  • 77.
  • At 01:32 AM on 05 Jul 2007,
  • Jerome wrote:

I am from Mauritius. Great news to here that Alan has been released :)

  • 78.
  • At 02:38 AM on 05 Jul 2007,
  • Merry Taylor wrote:

Strange, really - I have never met Mr. Johnston an only read a few of his features on the online BBC, but for some reason I have felt this enormous sympathy for him, his family and everyone he is dear to. Maybe it is this special kindeness he radiates that made his abduction seem even more unfair and cruel than others, which I know is not not true, as every abduction is an act of cruelty and violence.
When I got up this morning and checked the BBC the news of his release was the best news in a long time. I wish him and his family all the best and hope that a return to "normality" will be possible very soon.

  • 79.
  • At 03:33 AM on 05 Jul 2007,
  • koizumi wrote:

It's very wonderful he is free now. Thanks Hamas. Let's hope no other journalist or civilian will be harmed again in occupied Palestine.

Recover well, Alan. Take your time. Stay out of the Middle East for the time being. I wish you all the best.

A BBC reader from Malaysia,
Mr. Taikor.

By the way, you thank everybody but Hamas! I am no cheerer for suicide bombers, but in this case their commitment was commendable.

And you leave them out?


  • 82.
  • At 11:00 AM on 05 Jul 2007,
  • Joanne Black wrote:

Down here in New Zealand, the big story on July 4 was Alinghi beating Team New Zealand by one second in the final race of the America's Cup. Who cared? Well, lots of people, actually, but to some of us there was only one momentous story - Alan Johnston's release. What wonderful news from a region that has too little of it. Well done to all those who helped secure his release.

  • 83.
  • At 11:07 AM on 05 Jul 2007,
  • Ivy wrote:

This is Good news. Please Tell Alan and his family We celebrate with them. Congratulation Alan. You have been through the shadow of death but the Lord kept you Thank God for you.
Stay bless, recover fast from fear and stay strong God bless you

IVY Ghana

  • 84.
  • At 11:18 AM on 05 Jul 2007,
  • Jaafar wrote:

I am so glad that he has bin realsed and wish him all the luck in the future ;)

  • 85.
  • At 01:15 PM on 05 Jul 2007,
  • Kelvin Pascal wrote:

Am so glad ALAN is realsed. is such a great news foe us and Britain. All I have to say is WELCOME HOME and well done to all who help make this a successful one. I think u are our HERO and I wish u all the best. cheers

  • 86.
  • At 02:57 PM on 05 Jul 2007,
  • woynshet wrote:



  • 87.
  • At 04:22 PM on 05 Jul 2007,
  • James Callejero wrote:

I, like many others, have celebrated the freedom of Alan Johnstone today (now yesterday). I toasted his returning voice sitting at the window of my North London flat with my coffee mug raised triumphantly. And, then, I wondered, why had this news brought me - sat in Kentish Town and as much to do with Gaza as I do with Alan Johnstone - so great a pleasure? Why had my usual pre-caffeinated stumble turned to a happy gambol?

Perhaps, it is because, in his person, Alan Johnstone has a brutally honest air - balanced by a verbal grace - that marks him out as valuable - a gift to be cherished, a communicator to be listened to.
Perhaps, it is a simple human value of freedom that has been affirmed in the fact of his release.
Perhaps, it is because, in the current situation, any concorde between the Middle and a representative is a welcome relief from the usual confrontational narrative.

However, aside from my personal reasons - the media (in particular, the BBC) have worked hard. Their success in attracting attention, concern, and petition signing has now, with this successful outcome, transferred an alleviating catharsis to those who took part. Much has been made of the media campaign and - as is so often the way in places like Gaza, there has been very little examination of the most immediate protagonists in the deal that saved the life of Alan Johnstone. This is, perhaps, understandable: the moment of release is hardly the time to congratulate the captors of the past. However, the moment of release has now gone and we have moved into a second stage: the analysis stage. The successful media is now examining its success; looking to see where it went right; examining its sharpened tools; and looking to future situations where its success could be recreated. The problem is that analysis of this kind quickly leads the original exultation to self-congratulatory meaningless: how did we do it, the media asks itself? Why were we successful when in other times we haven‘t?

The important point is, I believe, to forget about the reaction the media coverage has elicited from me (among many); to disregard the signatures on petitions; to collapse the notion that a demonstration in London has the slightest effect on Gaza city: the only way to do this is to look at the actual events and circumstances relevant to the most powerful protagonists in the entire saga - the captors. Whilst the media message continues to exclude Hamas and the Army of Islam from a part in the success story, the seeds of failure are already in propagation.

The values of Alan Johnston as a journalist are not absolutely representative of the British media: the freedom of Alan Johnston concerns a unity - aspiring to truth - between him, as an individual, and the men who held him. Alan Johnston was the slave to the Army of Islam while they were the master of his circumstance; he was captive to their will. This is, many will agree, the basis of confrontations across the globe - a peaceful resolution, such as has occurred in the case of Alan Johnston, is, on the other hand, a rarity.

Palestinian journalists and individual Palestinians took to the streets proclaiming, “he is one of us” - Alan Johnston is part of our humanity, and he deserves to live as much as any of us. Hamas, a group who deny above anything else that the Judeo-Christian tradition is not part of their identity, agreed. So, in the end, did the Army of Islam - albeit surrounded by men with guns.
To identify yourself with the other (like Alan Johnston is), as Palestinians did, is a rarity - not just in Baghdad, Gaza and Helmand province but in London, Birmingham and East Anglia.
And they did so in response to the stance of Alan Johnston - they saw in him a man dedicated to the truth, whose difference in ethnicity and tradition obscured none of his humanity: “one of us”.

The British media retains an aggressive stance to the other when it celebrates the freedom of “one of us” and claims that it saved him from “one of them” - it denies the facts of a situation and it contributes to the problems for those who seek liberty through this denial. Although, not in its entirety, the media is regularly guilty of an “us” and “them” mentality: in this case, it needs to learn from the captors the ability to change.

In the meantime, it is enough to know that, even in the heat and drama of Gaza City, there still appears a human space in which two protagonists can agree to see each other in themselves and part ways without blood being spilt.

Marvellous news. The BBC was in an impossible situation but walked the tightrope magnificently. I am so pleased for Alan, his family and colleagues

  • 89.
  • At 01:33 AM on 06 Jul 2007,
  • Mark wrote:

I saw Johnston say on TV that he is going to dissapear into obscurity. What a disappointment. His experience was a reporter's dream come true, now that it's over. Finally he gets real information on what the Palestinian struggle is all about first hand and he bugs out. I hope at least he writes a book. If he doesn't tell his story, he'll prove he was no real journalist. Who would pass up such an opportunity?

  • 90.
  • At 06:18 AM on 06 Jul 2007,
  • Distance Chiswe wrote:

I heard a good number of comments on recent World Have Your Say most of them made a lot of sense. I think we need to give credit where it is due. I honestly believe Hamas acted in good faith and has done something quite commendable by securing Alan's safe release. I do not think we will be doing Alan Jonstone justice by pointing an accusing finger at Hamas when he openly acknowledged the pivotal role the organisation played in securing his freedom. Yes, there may be bad blood between interested parties I think in Alan's case Hamas did something deserving appreciation.

  • 91.
  • At 08:54 AM on 06 Jul 2007,
  • John wrote:

Earlier I commented that the BBC should be very cautious not to allow reasonable relief over the release of AJ to influence reporting of hamas. Today on the website we have a commentary piece entitled "Chink of light: Could Alan Johnston's release provide a rare chance for Hamas?" and a 'have your say' entitled: "In from the cold? Is it time for the world to start talking to Hamas?" Let's be clear, Hamas forced the release of one hostage because it benefitted them, they have not changed their policy on rocketing civilians, suicide bombing of civilians or their own hostage taking. Again, I think it very important that the BBC should not allow it's self to become the cheerleaders for a terrorist organisation.

  • 92.
  • At 05:18 AM on 08 Jul 2007,
  • Rob Minshull wrote:

If you're reading all these, welcome back Al. We missed you mate.

  • 93.
  • At 06:21 PM on 10 Jul 2007,
  • Catherine Al-Meten wrote:

Over the last week I was out in the woods working on a project, and was so surprised and elated when the first news I heard when I turned on the BBC while driving up the Columbia River in Oregon was that Alan Johnson had been released safe and sound. Congratulations Alan, and I add my voice to the thousands who have been holding you in their hearts and prayers. Congratulations too to the BBC staff. Your unfailing support and courage to reach out and let Alan's captives know how many people opposed the way they were trying to make their point. So much more can be gained by treating people well than it can by using terror and coercion to attempt to bring about change. Again, congratulations Alan, and may you have some time to recuperate and enjoy the love and friendship that surround you. Blessings, CAM

  • 94.
  • At 11:45 PM on 25 Oct 2007,
  • Mary Manuel wrote:

I want to share a my experienced with Alan. Two days before Alan's release I woke up 2:00 in the morning thinking about my own problem and decided to ask help from our Almighty God. In the middle of my praying Alan came to my mind and I prayed for him. Asking God to help those who is responsible for his captures and enlighten their hearts to release him. A day and half later, I felt like I was flying in the cloud after reading the news of his released.

The amazing parts, I do not know who is Alan Johnston and I am from a very isolated island from the rest of the world. Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia.

  • 95.
  • At 03:39 PM on 06 Nov 2007,
  • philippa smith wrote:

Alan we are so delighted that you are free and what a marvellous feeling that is.
My late husband Mike Chatterton was kidnapped in 1978 in el Salvador for 7 months, it was a harrowing time for all, he was released after much deliberation and returned to a working life very quickly, I must admit to several nightmares for some time afterwards,I'm sure you well know the feeling and from what we see of you on the television you will cope and return to normality, keep busy and accept all the love and kindness friends and collegues give you.
Mike died in Florida in 1984 of Cancer, we were living in Cayman Is where he was working for his old employer, I returned to England and am now happy to say that have remarried and all is well
Philippa Smith

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