Palestinians say kidnapped BBC journalist is alive

Kidnapped BBC Gaza reporter Alan Johnston is still alive and being held captive, the Palestinian Authority said today.

A delegation of 12 MEPs, on a visit to the region to discuss EU funding for the Palestinian Authority, were told by Palestinian Deputy Prime Minister Azzam al-Ahmed that the Scottish journalist was still being held by his captors and that the authority "knew what they had to do to secure his release".

British MEP Caroline Lucas told the BBC: "We can only go on what we're told, but it certainly seems to be a very high political priority for them.

"I think they recognise, as we all do, that it's doing the Palestinian Authority absolutely no good at all to have Alan Johnston still in captivity."

Vigils are being held every Monday in London by friends and colleagues of Johnston, who was kidnapped at gunpoint on 12 March.

Journalists in Bangkok, Beijing and Jakarta are also holding events this week to show their support.

Johnston had been based in Gaza for three years and was due to end his post and come to London last month.

Earlier this month, an unheard-of militant Palestinian group claimed to have killed him, but this could not be confirmed by either the Palestinian Authority or the BBC.

Last Thursday, the European Parliament passed a resolution calling for the Palestinians to redouble their efforts to secure Johnston's release.

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