Abbas: PA intelligence services confirm abducted BBC reporter is alive !!

By News Agencies

STOCKHOLM – Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas said Thursday that intelligence services have confirmed that kidnapped British journalist Alan Johnston is alive.

“Yes, I believe he is still alive,” Abbas told reporters in Stockholm. “Our intelligence services have confirmed to me that he’s alive.

Abbas said he knew which group was holding Johnston, but declined to give details.

Top Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat, accompanying Abbas on the visit to Sweden, said authorities were working to have BBC reporter Alan Johnston released. Johnston disappeared on March 12.

An e-mail in the name of the Tawhid and Jihad Brigades sent Sunday to media outlets said the previously unknown group had killed Johnston and would release a video of his execution.

Erekat, who with Abbas was visiting Sweden as part of a diplomatic push to encourage the European Union to unlock financial aid to the Palestinian government, said there was nothing to confirm the claim.

“All sources in Gaza have informed the president that, contrary to these reports, Mr. Johnston is alive,” he said.

“The president is reassured that he is alive and every effort is being exerted now to acquire his release.”

The BBC said last week Abbas had said he had evidence Johnston was alive.

The e-mail sent Sunday claimed Johnston had been killed after Palestinian and British authorities failed to meet demands for prisoners to be freed from Israeli jails.

But no such demand has been made public since Johnston, one of few Western reporters based in Gaza, vanished.

Erekat said he was not aware of Palestinian authorities receiving any demands related to the abducted journalist.

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