Wednesday, May 9, 2007Journalists join in solidarity with their colleagues around the world to call for the release of BBC reporter Alan Johnston on his 60th day of captivity Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) and the Canadian Media Guild (CMG) have called on their members and all journalists to mark May 10, 2007, by attending a rally in support of British journalist Alan Johnston. BBC Gaza correspondent Alan Johnston was kidnapped by gunmen near his office in Gaza City on March 12, 2007. Thursday, May 10 marks his 60th day in captivity. Interviews with Daniel Lak, former BBC South Asia correspondent and friend of Alan Johnston, will be available in advance of the event WHAT: Rally for Alan Johnston WHERE: Simcoe Place Express Park 200 Front Street West Toronto, Ontario WHEN: Thursday, May 10, 2007 12:00 p.m. - 12:40p.m. WHO: Speakers include: Sandro Contenta, Toronto Star Rick MacInnes Rae, CBC Radio Peter Mansbridge, CBC Television Patrick Martin, The Globe and Mail Brian Stewart, CBC Television Anna Maria Tremonti, CBC Radio Johnston, 44, is a veteran foreign correspondent. Before moving to Gaza in 2004, he ran BBC bureaus in Kabul and Tashkent. He is widely respected and liked by his peers. His reporting on events in Gaza has been widely acclaimed as balanced, insightful and courageous. Johnston is believed to be alive and in good health. The BBC and other journalism organisations around the world have been calling for Johnston's immediate and safe release from the day of his abduction. On May 9, these appeals took on a new urgency when his kidnappers, a group called Jaish al-Islam (Army of Islam) delivered a tape to Al Jazeera news in which they made specific demands. This is the first time the group has made public demands through the media. They are asking for the release of Abu Qatada, a Palestinian-born Islamic cleric held in the UK as a threat to national security. A single media worker harmed or kidnapped is one too many. The International Freedom of Expression eXchange (IFEX) reports dozens of instances of journalists taken hostage each year, many of them in Iraq and the Gaza strip. Fourteen journalists have been kidnapped in the Gaza Strip since 2005. Reporters, camera crew and producers need to know they can work safely in troubled areas like Gaza. If journalists are unable to report freely, the world will have lost vital access to information.
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