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(photo credit: AP [file])
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said Thursday he had received intelligence reports this week confirming 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, who works for the BBC, but would not say whether any contact had been established with the captors.
"What I'm telling you is based on my intelligence and our intelligence service gathering," Abbas said. He said that "in the last three days" he had received reports that Johnston was alive.
Johnston, 44, was abducted by gunmen in Gaza City on March 12 and has not been seen or heard from since then.
On Sunday, a previously unknown group, "The Brigades of Tawheed and Jihad," said it had killed Johnston to support demands for the release of Palestinian prisoners held by Israel. There has been no confirmation of the claim.
"We know the group that holds him," Abbas said, but added that did not mean there was any contact with the group. "The less we talk about it the more we provide safe release."
Abbas said he was "exerting every possible effort ... to ensure the safety of Mr. Johnston and to ensure his immediate release."