Parents of freed BBC reporter Johnston 'overjoyed'

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July 4, 2007 11:35
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The parents of freed BBC reporter Alan Johnson said Wednesday they were overjoyed he had been released after 114 days in captivity in Gaza. A smiling Graham Johnston and his wife, Margaret, who spoke to reporters outside their Scottish home, said they had a very brief and joyful telephone conversation with their son. "It's been 114 days of a living nightmare, and just to hear his voice; he telephoned us, there was a lot of noise in the background, and I think he was being jostled a lot," Graham Johnston told reporters outside his Scottish home. "And all he said was, 'Hello Dad,' and I said, 'Hello son, how are you? Are you all right?' and he said, 'I'm 100 percent,' and then the phone was cut. So that's all we've had from him so far. "We've seen him on the box, and it's just incredible. It's been a long 114 days," the father said. Graham Johnston said the most difficult point for the family was last week when his son's captors, the Army of Islam, posted a video message from his son on a militant Web site in which he appeared to be wearing an explosives belt that he said they would detonate if there were an attempt to free him. "The BBC told us there was a video coming out and he had an explosive device wrapped round him and this was just awful and I dreaded seeing it," Graham Johnston said. Yet the reporter's father said he stayed up until 2:30 a.m. switching channels - hoping to see his son - but did not find it. "It was the next morning we got it. I had butterflies in my stomach that whole day dreading seeing it, and when I saw it the butterflies went. I was so pleased that he looked fit," Graham Johnston said. He said the family would definitely celebrate but that his son would need some private time before they pop open the champagne. "He has been incarcerated for all these months in solitary confinement so I think he should decompress a bit in private before we start opening bottles," he said. "He is not really a great party chap, and he is going to cringe when he realizes there are pictures up all over the place," the reporter's father said.

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