Alan Johnston – freed

NEWS ALERT: The BBC reporter Alan Johnston has been freed alive after 16 weeks in captivity…

Gaunt, tired, but smiling a blue-shirted Alan Johnston breathed in the morning air of Gaza City a free man at 3am local time today.

His family back home received the news and burst into tears, before the phone at their home back in Scotland began ringing non-stop.

Colleagues at the BBC looked and sounded elated, knowing full well that it could have been so very different.

Journalists from dozens of nationalities, some of them his friends, gathered in a huge scrum to interview him as he was paraded by Hamas, his saviours.

The implications of the group’s involvement and what it will mean for the political world are still to come.

But what of Alan?

A well-liked reported who forged a reputation for fair and accurate reporting from the Middle East now finds himself being the story.

He will be debriefed by officials, no doubt offered counselling by the BBC, and plagued by fellow reporters until they have their soundbites.

Then he will return to Scotland, for some peace with his parents.

Whatever comes next, there is relief that he has been freed from his incarceration.

After his ordeal, perhaps the nightmares are still to come.

But looking at the campaign to help free him, one thing is clear.

He won’t be short of friends to help him through.

BBC News 24: BBC’s Gaza correspondent released

Guardian Unlimited: ‘The Worst days of my life … “



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