10:30PM Tuesday April 10, 2007
The BBC has flatly denied Palestinian reports that one of its journalists may have staged his own kidnapping in the Gaza Strip.
Chief of the BBC's Middle East Bureau Simon Wilson said that there was no truth in any suggestion that Johnston abducted himself or colluded with Palestinian colleagues in the supposed kidnapping. Nor was there any truth that Johnston was about to be dismissed, he said.
"Alan is a highly respected journalist. He was due to return to London in April after a three-year position in Gaza, to resume a full-time staff job with the BBC World Service," Wilson added.
According to London-based Arab language newspaper, Al-Hayat, Johnston staged his capture by Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip after he received a notice from his superiors that he would be fired in the near future.
Johnston has been missing since March 12.
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