Birthday vigils for missing Gaza reporter Alan Johnston

The 45th birthday of kidnapped BBC Gaza correspondent Alan Johnston is being marked by a number of vigils across the world today.

The journalist, originally from Argyll, was seized at gunpoint on his way home in Gaza City on 12 March.

He now faces spending today’s birthday in captivity, 66 days on from his abduction.

BBC director general Mark Thompson said: “Since Alan’s abduction, he has been constantly in our thoughts. “It is particularly sad that he cannot celebrate his birthday with the people close to him.

“Across the BBC, I know there are thousands of Alan’s friends and colleagues all fervently hoping that he is safe and will soon be free to return home to his family.”

The corporation’s world newsgathering department is holding a series of events to mark Johnston’s birthday and keep his plight on the agenda.

A BBC spokesperson said the Tehran bureau, in conjunction with the UN, will hold a vigil and hear speeches from their Tehran correspondent and the head of the Iranian Journalists’ Association.

Gatherings are also being held at the Moscow Journalists’ House and the Foreign Correspondents’ Club in Hong Kong. The journalist is also the focus of supporters’ thoughts at a gathering in Ramallah.

The BBC said it would continue its petition calling for the journalist’s release, which has now been signed by 93,000 people.

He was recently named broadcast journalist of the year by the London Press Club for his work reporting from the Gaza Strip.

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