At this time last year, BBC journalist Alan Johnston was being held hostage. For the three years before he was kidnapped by a Palestinian jihadist organization called the Army of Islam, Johnston was the last foreign correspondent brave enough to live and work in the volatile Gaza Strip. He spent four months as a hostage, from March 12 until his release 114 days later on July 4.
To celebrate World Press Freedom Day, Alan Johnston will be at CBC’s Glenn Gould Studio to speak about reporting in global conflict zones. “Free to Express Himself” is being organized by the Canadian Journalists for Free Expression, the Canadian Media Guild and the International Development Research Centre.
Johnston has worked for the BBC for over 15 years, alternating between postings in London and abroad. While being held hostage, the BBC rallied for his release and journalists from the Palestinian territory to Canada staged demonstrations. During and after his release, from which he emerged physically unharmed, he received several awards, including an Amnesty International UK media award on the day of his release. He currently hosts one of the BBC’s flagship radio shows, “From Our Own Correspondent,” which tells the personal stories of the news organizations field reporters.
His own story was featured on the program and it’s pretty fascinating, especially when he details his eerie foreshadowing of his own kidnapping. “I had reported many times on the kidnapping of foreigners in Gaza,” he narrated, “Now, as I always feared it might, my turn had come.”
Alan Johnston will be interviewed by Anna Maria Tremonti from CBC’s “The Current” this Wednesday, April 30 at 7:00 p.m. Glenn Gould Studio, CBC Broadcast Centre, 250 Front Street West. Tickets ($20, or $15 for students with I.D.) can be purchased at the Glenn Gould Studio website.
Photo by Jake Peters, CJFE.