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Thursday, 26 April 2007 - Strasbourg OJ edition

Kidnapping in Gaza of the journalist Alan Johnston

  Simon Coveney, on behalf of the PPE-DE Group. Madam President, I hope this debate and resolution will add, in some small way, to the international pressure to successfully achieve the release of Alan Johnston following his abduction two weeks ago.

We in this Parliament must speak out strongly to send a clear message of condemnation of the acts of violence that have taken place and the kidnapping of a man who has gained a reputation as one of the world’s leading media broadcasters. He has built up a reputation over many years – but in particular during the last three years in Gaza – as a broadcaster who is objective and balanced in his reporting of a very difficult situation.

We call on everybody who has any influence or power over his captors to do all they can to secure his release. For the Palestinian people themselves, this crisis is adding to an already tragic situation. It is sending out a message to the rest of the world that not even experienced journalists are welcome or safe in Gaza.

This is a man who has been informing the rest of the world of the suffering, injustice and tragedy that continues there. Targeting him by kidnapping him is not only an appalling crime in itself, but it is self-defeating in terms of the Palestinian people’s cause.

Gaza is isolated enough without cutting off accurate media reporting. We are calling on the Palestinian Authority in particular to work for his release as an absolute priority and on the Council and Commission to maximise their efforts to that end.

Finally, to Alan Johnston’s family and friends, I express my sincere support on behalf of the PPE-DE Group in this Parliament. I hope that their ordeal will soon have a relieving and positive conclusion.

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