Kidnapped BBC reporter Johnston 'treated well'

Kidnapped BBC reporter Alan Johnston appeared in a video posted on an Islamic militant website today, saying he had been treated well.

Kidnapped BBC reporter Alan Johnston appeared in a video posted on an Islamic militant website today, saying he had been treated well.

He called for the lifting of international sanctions against the Palestinian government.

There was no way to tell when the video was recorded. Mr Johnston, 45, was kidnapped on March 12 by Palestinian gunmen in Gaza City, and before today, had not been seen or heard from since.

The tape appeared on the Al-Ekhlaas website, frequently used by Islamic militants. It bore the logo of the Army of Islam, a shadowy Palestinian group.

Mr Johnston, looking fit and calm, spoke of the suffering Gazans had endured and urged a lifting of sanctions imposed in an effort to pressure the Palestinian government to recognise Israel’s right to exist and renounce violence.

He was shown from the waist up, wearing what looked like a red sweatshirt.

The British Foreign Office said it was aware of media reports and was investigating the claims.

The BBC said it was also investigating the reports, but had not yet obtained a copy of the video.

“We are aware of the reports and we are investigating urgently,” said Simon Wilson, the BBC bureau chief in Jerusalem.

The company planned to issue a statement later today, a BBC spokesman in London said.

Last week, an aide to Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh said Mr Johnston was alive and well, and could soon be released.

He has been missing far longer than any foreigner kidnapped in Gaza, and his disappearance has touched off numerous protests and solidarity marches in London and the Palestinian territories.

The Army of Islam released a 20-minute recording recently, showing a picture of Mr Johnston’s press card and demanding the release of a radical Islamist held in a UK jail.

The British government has said it would not make any deals to secure the journalist’s release.

Palestinian officials have said they knew where to find Mr Johnston, but have held back on raiding the hideout at Britain’s request, for fear of harming him.

The Palestinian government has instead tried to negotiate with the captors.

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