Kidnapped British reporter appears on video

/ Source: The Associated Press

Kidnapped British reporter Alan Johnston appeared in a video posted on an Islamic militant Web site on Friday, saying he has been treated well, and calling for the lifting of international sanctions against the Palestinian government.

There was no way to tell when the video was recorded.

Johnston, a correspondent for the British Broadcasting Corp., was kidnapped March 12 by Palestinian gunmen in Gaza City, and before Friday, hadn't been seen or heard from since.

The tape appeared on the Al-Ekhlaas Web site, frequently used by Islamic militants. It bore the logo of the Army of Islam, the shadowy Palestinian group that had been believed to be holding the 45-year-old reporter.

Johnston, looking fit and calm, spoke of the suffering Gazans have endured and urged a lifting of sanctions imposed in an effort to pressure the Palestinian government to recognize Israel's right to exist and renounce violence.

He was shown from the waist up, wearing what looked like a red sweatshirt.

Britain's Foreign Office said it was aware of media reports and investigating the claims. "We are urgently investigating these reports," said a spokesman, on customary condition of anonymity.

Last week, an aide to Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh said Johnston was alive and well, and could soon be released. He has been missing far longer than any Western journalist kidnapped in Gaza, and his disappearance has touched off numerous protests and solidarity marches in London and the Palestinian territories.

The Army of Islam released a 20-minute recording recently, showing a picture of Johnston's press card and demanding the release of a radical Islamist held in a British jail.

The British government has said it would not make any deals to secure the journalist's release.