Guantanamo detainee makes plea for Johnston release

An Al Jazeera TV cameraman held prisoner for years at the US Navy base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, has issued a plea for the release of BBC journalist Alan Johnston.

‘While the United States has kidnapped me and held me for years on end, this is not a lesson that Muslims should copy,’said Guantanamo Bay detainee Sami al-Hajj.

His comments came in an open letter made public by his lawyer, Clive Stafford Smith, to the kidnappers of the BBC correspondent, held since March.

‘What the Americans are doing to me is very, very wrong,’said al-Hajj in the letter, a native of Sudan, ‘yet this can never mean that a Muslim should similarly hold a British journalist, and put him and his family through similar suffering.

‘Please, then, as brothers in one faith, consider this gift that I request of you: That you release Alan Johnston as soon as possible, without conditions.’

Al-Hajj, 38, has been held at Guantanamo Bay for nearly five years on suspicion of having links to Islamic militant groups. He has been accused of making videos of Osama bin Laden.

His remarks come in the wake of reassurances given by a Palestinian government spokesman as to Johnston’s safety.

Ghazi Hamad, the government spokesman, said he knew the group holding Johnston and was working to secure the correspondent’s release. He described Johnston’s state as being ‘healthy, well and in a very good situation”.

Johnston, who disappeared on 12 March while driving his car in the Gaza Strip, has been held captive longer than any other foreign journalists seized by gunmen in Gaza.

A BBC spokesman said: ‘We are aware of the comments, and welcome calls from any quarter that can bring about a positive and speedy conclusion to Alan’s situation.”

To sign the petition calling for Johnston’s release go to

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