Johnston Release Boosts Hamas

Freeing BBC reporter is attempt to send message
By Caroline Miller,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 4, 2007 8:40 AM CDT
BBC reporter Alan Johnston waves as he leaves the Israeli side of the Erez Border crossing , Wednesday, July 4, 2007. British reporter Alan Johnston, looking gaunt and walking stiffly, was released Wednesday...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – Alan Johnston's release after 12 weeks in captivity was used by Hamas today to separate itself from the al-Qaeda-inspired kidnappers, and to assert its ability to secure order in Gaza, the BBC reports. The freed reporter was taken to the home of Hamas leader Ismail Haniya, who was outsted as PM of the Palestinian Authority last month by President Abbas.

Haniya, who dined and was photographed with Johnston, said the release was a reward to Britain for speaking directly to Hamas on the matter, ignoring an embargo by other Western governments. An aide to Abbas charged that that Hamas had coordinated both kidnapping and release: "I think this was staged by Hamas to make it appear as if it respects international law."