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Johnston attributes release to Hamas
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09:57, July 05, 2007

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Alan Johnston, a BBC reporter who was released early Wednesday after four months in captivity in the Gaza Strip, said that the Palestinian Hamas is to thank for securing his release.

Speaking at a news conference in Jerusalem held hours after his release, Johnston thanked all those who supported him, noting that he would "still be in that room," if Hamas hadn't come in and turned the heat on.

"Thanks very, very much, really to everyone of you," he said, " I am so glad to be free."

Recounting his 16 weeks of captivity, Johnston said it was "a nightmare I didn't think it would ever end."

He also said that his captors became increasingly concerned when Hamas took control of Gaza in mid June. Hamas had demanded Johnston's freedom since it took over Gaza.

Johnston, 45, was the only Western journalist to stay full time in restless Gaza at the time of his kidnapping.
Johnston was freed in the early hours of Wednesday following a deal between Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, and Johnston's captor the Army of Islam.

The radical group, the Army of Islam, claimed responsibility for kidnapping Johnston on March 12 and demanded that Britain free al-Qaida leaders in exchange of the release of him.

Source: Xinhua



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