Ban Ki-moon ’profoundly relieved’ at release of BBC’s Alan Johnston
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today voiced relief at the release of BBC correspondent Alan Johnston following 16 weeks of captivity in Gaza, and called for other kidnap victims to be freed.
“The Secretary-General is profoundly relieved at the release,” a spokesman for Mr. Ban said in a statement released in Turin, Italy, calling for the earliest release without conditions of kidnap victims detained in similar circumstances.
“He pays tribute to Mr. Johnston’s dignity and resilience in captivity, and equally, to the professional reporting of the BBC worldwide, in which Mr. Johnston has long been a gifted and reliable voice,” the spokesman said.
The Secretary-General also acknowledged the work of all parties involved in the release, which he called “a crucial reminder of the need to protect not only the freedom, but the security and safety, of the media around the world.”
In Paris, the Director-General of the UN Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organization (UNESCO) also expressed relief at Mr. Johnston’s liberation.
“I am relieved and delighted that Alan Johnston has finally been freed, safe and sound,” said Koïchiro Matsuura. “He and his family have displayed remarkable courage during this terrible ordeal.”
Stressing that journalists must be able to operate without fear for their security, he congratulated all those who advocated for Mr. Johnston’s release.
“Alan Johnston was held captive longer than any other journalist abducted in Gaza . It is now up to Palestinian authorities to see that those responsible are located and swiftly brought to justice,” said the Director-General.