May 10, 2007: Rally for British journalist Alan Johnston (Toronto)

Journalists join in solidarity with their colleagues around the world to call for the release of 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:
Peter Mansbridge, CBC Television
Brian Stewart, CBC Television
Anna Maria Tremonti, CBC Radio
Rick MacInnes Rae, CBC Radio
Patrick Martin, The Globe and Mail
Sandro Contenta, Toronto Star

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.

The BBC and media workers rights organizations around the world have been calling for Johnston’s immediate and safe release from the day of his abduction. These appeals have taken on a new urgency as time goes on. His parents in Scotland, both in their 70s, have appeared on international television and radio to appeal to his kidnappers for their son’s freedom.

Johnston is believed to be alive and in good health but there is no sign of his captors releasing him anytime soon. Why he’s being held remains a matter for speculation.

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.

To arrange interviews or to get more information about the event, please contact:
Julie Payne, CJFE (416) 515-9622 x.226 or Karen Wirsig, CMG (416) 578-1651
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