Alan Johnston is free

5 July 2007 at 02:14 | 1813 views

BBC reporter Alan Johnston(photo, left) thanked the international media on Wednesday for "keeping my story alive" during his nearly four months of captivity in the Gaza Strip.

"I felt at one point that all the journalists of the world were coming to my rescue," a nervously chatty and beaming Johnston told a throng of fellow journalists and photographers at the British consulate in Jerusalem hours after his release.

Johnston, who turned 45 while being held by a previously unknown armed militant Palestinian faction, arrived at the consulate directly from Gaza as colleagues and family members rejoiced at his release.

"They weren’t going to let the story die, and any kidnap victim will tell you the thing they probably fear most of all is that the world will go on without them and they’re going to be forgotten about.

"To all of you, thank you for keeping my story alive."

Johnston said his kidnappers did threaten his life after he was kidnapped March 12 at gunpoint on a street near his Gaza City home, although he did not elaborate. He said he was chained up 24 hours at one point.

"The last 16 weeks, of course, were just the very worst you ’You want to do everything at the same time’
Johnston also said it was overwhelming to be able to do the "basic things that freedom allows," including getting his hair shorn to its customary clean-shaven level.