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UK welcomes release of kidnapped BBC reporter
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19:38, July 04, 2007

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British Foreign Secretary David Miliband on Wednesday expressed his delight at the release of BBC reporter Alan Johnston who had been held hostage for months in the Gaza Strip.

"He is now in the care of the British Consul General in Jerusalem, Richard Makepeace. Our immediate priorities are to ensure that he is well and that he is reunited with his family, who have not seen him for 114 days," said Miliband.

"Throughout Alan''''s ordeal, we have seen an outstanding show of support and concern for him from around the world. The Palestinian people showed their repugnance at kidnapping Alan," said the foreign secretary.

"Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas strongly condemned this kidnapping event. Ismail Haniya and Hamas spokesmen denounced the hostage takers and demanded to release Alan. I fully acknowledge the crucial role they have played in securing this happy outcome," he said.

"Hostage taking is an abhorrent crime. The overwhelming support for Alan in the last four months has shown that all decent people believe that taking hostages can never be a legitimate means to achieve any end," said he.

The BBC was also "delighted and extremely relieved" at the release of Alan Johnston .

"This is wonderful news for his family, friends and colleagues, and everyone around the world who has shown their support for him over the past 114 days. We thank all of those who worked tirelessly here and in the wider Middle East to secure his freedom," a BBC statement said.

It said Johnston now needs "time to recover from this ordeal."

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