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Sacked Hamas PM denies Johnston's captors get 5 million USD
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09:51, July 06, 2007

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Sacked Palestinian Prime Minister of Hamas Ismail Haneya on Thursday denied reports that captors of BBC journalist Alan Johnston received five million U.S. dollars for his release.

Haneya also dismissed reports that Hamas and the Army of Islam, which was responsible for Johnston's abduction, had made transactions concerning Johnston's release.

"I can confirm that there was no transaction or bargaining. The release of Johnston was unconditioned. We don't disperse political rewards, we just want a shining image of our people, Hamas and the government," said Haneya.

Meanwhile, Mahmoud al-Zahar, another senior Hamas leader and former Palestinian foreign minister, also denied reports that a deal was reached with the captors of Johnston, adding that the release of Johnston was "unconditioned."

Earlier in the day, well-informed sources close to the Army of Islam revealed that a transaction was reached to release Johnston, noting that "the transaction was complex and was achieved on stages."

According to the sources, the Army of Islam received five million dollars in addition to one million bullets.

On Wednesday, Zahar had said that the two groups had appealed for a Fatwa from a well-known Muslim clerk in the Gaza Strip, who ruled that Johnston should be freed without any condition.

Johnston was kidnapped on March 12 by the Army of Islam, which demanded that Britain free al-Qaida leaders in exchange of the release of the reporter. He was freed early Wednesday.

Hamas had demanded Johnston's freedom since it seized control of the Gaza Strip last month.

Source: Xinhua

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