04 July 2007

Alan Johnston freed!

Alan Johnston banner

I switched on the news 30 minutes ago to hear the best news in months - BBC reporter Alan Johnston has been set free.

I am overjoyed for him and his family - 16 weeks in captivity is a very long time when you are on your own in a hostile situation. Watching the footage of his release I was struck by how very calm and composed he is after his ordeal.

The last couple of years have not been good for journalists in danger zones. in 2006, Reporters Without Borders reported that 81 journalists and 32 media assistants were killed, at least 871 were arrested, 1,472 were physically attacked or threatened, 56 kidnapped and 912 media outlets were censored. This year already the figures are as follows: 53 journalists and 9 media assistants have been killed, while 128 journalists and 6 media assistants have been imprisoned.

Today, we can celebrate Alan Johnston's freedom. But let's not forget the others who have not been so lucky...

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