The jailed Fateh leader in Israeli prisons, Marwan Barghouthi, called on Wednesday for the immediate release of the abducted BBC reporter, Allan Johnston, and described him as a friend to the Palestinian people. Johnston, the 44-year old reporter, was abducted by unknown gunmen in the Gaza Strip on March 12, and several Palestinian groups, political factions and journalists called for his immediate and safe release. Palestinian journalists also held a strike demanding his release.

 Barghouthi was sentenced by an Israeli military court to five life terms after Israel claimed that he is involved in shooting attacks that killed for settlers. He was kidnapped by the Israeli army in 2002.

Barghouthi sent the following statement from his cell to appeal the release of the abducted reporter; “From my cell, in the name of the 10000 Palestinian detainees held in occupation prisons, I appeal and call for the immediate release of Alan Johnston, the friend of the Palestinian people”.

 Despite a statement released by a new group in Gaza claiming that they have executed the reporter, the chances of his safe release still did not fade since their claim was not confirmed by any means.

From his cell, Barghouthi slammed the abduction and slammed any attack against civilians, and journalists, stating that such attacks harm the Palestinian cause and struggle for independence.