Video released with demands for exchange of BBC correspondent

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Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Alan Johnston in an undated BBC photo

The Arabic news television channel, Al-Jazeera has reported that it has received a tape apparently from the kidnappers of BBC Gaza Correspondent Alan Johnston, a citizen of the United Kingdom.

The film contains no pictures of Mr. Johnston, but it shows a picture of Johnston's BBC ID card. The tape includes demands for the release of Muslims held in British jails and also readings from the Koran.

Alan Johnston was kidnapped on March 12, 2007 and has been held for over 8 weeks, the longest time for any foreigner in the Gaza Strip. The tape was delivered to al-Jazeera in Gaza and was made by a group calling itself Jaish al-Islam (Army of Islam).

In response to this video, the BBC has said:

Cquote1.svg We are aware of the tape released by the Army of Islam concerning our Gaza correspondent, Alan Johnston. We have no comment on the demands made of the British government in the tape - we remain concerned for Alan's well-being and call for his immediate release Cquote2.svg

The tape does, however, have a specific demand - the demand being the release of Abu Qatada, a Palestinian born Islamic cleric who is suspected of close links to al-Qaeda and is currently held by the UK government as a threat to national security.

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