Palestinians campaign online for Johnston release

Palestinian journalists who started a website to campaign for the release of BBC News reporter Alan Johnston have received a large response.

Johnston was kidnapped by an unknown group in Gaza on 12 March and has since become the longest-held journalist hostage in the region. Most recently, the BBC said it could not verify claims by a group called Tawhid and Jihad Brigades that he had been executed.

Online publisher Emad Al-Masri and Ramattan agency reporter Mofeed Abu-Shammalah launched as a space for supporters to make their feelings clear and have so far attracted more than 500 messages.

“While talking, we agreed to launch a website to ask [that] the world supports for this issue,” Al-Masri told “From what I see on a daily basis, the website is known worldwide; I get feedback and comments from many countries around the world.

“I get also email feedback [from] hundreds [more]. I got feedback from the UK, US, Palestine, Israel, Jordan, India and Europe in general. All the comments are asking for freeing Alan and to keep journalists safe all over the world.”

Tens of thousands of people have signed a BBC petition calling for Johnston’s release, while an 12 April day of action crystallised ongoing widespread support among international reporters and Palestinian journalists, many Palestinian citizens and others.

“The truth is, our main targets were Palestinians inside and outside Palestine,” Mr Al-Masri, an online marketer, added. “We really hope to get any kind of feedback from anywhere about Alan’s life and health.

“[The aim was] to show the world how much we respect our friends who are working with us and how much we are really ashamed of what happened. Moreover, to force the political parties and security forces to secure our lives.

“It’s the first time a kidnapped person has stayed this period. It’s not our beliefs or habits – what happened is not Palestinian at all. He is a journalist helping Palestinians to get their freedom through using the most important tool, the media. Alan should be set free as soon as possible.”