View Full Version : Two FOX News journalists kidnapped in Gaza (now released)

08-15-2006, 01:15 PM
Gaza hunt for seized journalists
BBC (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/4792635.stm)

Palestinian security forces are searching the Gaza Strip for two kidnapped foreign journalists working for the US Fox News television channel. The two journalists are correspondent Steve Centanni and freelance cameraman Olaf Wiig.

The crew's Palestinian driver told security officials their car was stopped in Gaza City on Monday evening.

Meanwhile, Israel carried out two air strikes in Gaza overnight, injuring at least eight people.

The Israeli military said it was targeting a house in the Jabaliya refugee camp used by militants who had fired two rockets into Israel on Monday.

It said a second house, in Beit Hanoun, was being used as a weapons store.

Masked gunmen

The driver for the two journalists said masked gunmen ordered the men into another vehicle and they were driven away.

There is no indication yet as to who may be responsible but Interior Ministry spokesman Khaled Abu Hilal told the Associated Press news agency that police across Gaza had set up roadblocks to find the missing men. Fox News said that negotiations were under way to secure the pair's release.

Over the past two years, a number of foreigners have been kidnapped in Gaza. All have been freed unharmed.

The kidnappings come one year after Israel abandoned its settlements on the Gaza Strip and withdrew the soldiers guarding them.

Some of the settlers had to be forced to leave their homes, which according to international law had been built illegally.

One year on, the bungalows and gardens of the former settlements are now heaps of ruins, says the BBC's Alan Johnston in Gaza.

On agreement with Palestinian leaders, their homes were demolished after they left, but nothing has been built to replace them.

Land disputes and a lack of government control are partly to blame, says our correspondent, but Israeli artillery fire makes some former settlements too dangerous to go near.

08-22-2006, 01:25 PM
Gazans protest journalists' abduction
Associated Press (http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1154525904404&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull)

Palestinian journalists in Gaza protested on Saturday against the kidnapping of a Fox News correspondent and cameraman, as concern about the men's safety grew.

Cameraman Olaf Wiig, 36, of New Zealand, and American correspondent Steve Centanni, 60, were snatched Monday from their TV van near the Palestinian security services headquarters in Gaza City.

More than two dozen foreigners have been abducted by Palestinian gunmen, usually in an attempt to settle personal scores, but almost all have been released within hours. This is the longest that foreigners have been held. Security officials are especially concerned because all the armed groups have denied involvement and no demands have been put forth.

About 30 members of the Palestinian Journalists' Union gathered outside the parliamentary building in Gaza, holding up signs demanding the men be freed. Other signs called for security in Gaza, where armed men wander the streets freely.

Jennifer Griffen, chief Fox News correspondent for the Middle East, called the kidnapping a "test for the Palestinian people."

"We don't care who kidnapped them, we want them returned unharmed. This is a very serious case for the Palestinians, for the Palestinian Authority," Griffen said.

Khaled Batch, a leader of the Islamic Jihad militant group, said kidnapping members of the media "silenced the voice of freedom and justice."

"We...have experienced oppression and denial. We don't want to practice this pain and suffering on others, on other wives and people," Batch said.

08-27-2006, 10:57 AM
Seized journalists freed in Gaza
BBC (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/5290374.stm)

Two foreign journalists kidnapped in Gaza City have been released after nearly two weeks in captivity. American Steve Centanni and New Zealander Olaf Wiig of US organisation Fox News were dropped off at a Gaza City beach-front hotel.

Mr Centanni said they were forced at gunpoint to convert to Islam. They stated their conversion in a video released before they were set free.

The captors had called for the release of "Muslim prisoners" in the US.

The US had rejected the demands.

Their abduction was one of the longest of foreigners in Gaza in years.

'Fanning flames'

The pair were seized from their vehicle near the Palestinian security services' headquarters on 14 August, and held by a previously unknown group calling themselves the Holy Jihad Brigades.

Speaking after their release, Mr Centanni told Fox News they had been forced to convert to Islam at gunpoint.

"I have the highest respect for Islam... but it was something we felt we had to do because they had the guns and we didn't know what the hell was going on," he said by telephone from Gaza City.

In the video released on Sunday, the journalists read haltingly from prepared statements, in which they criticised Western intervention in Iraq and Afghanistan.

US President George W Bush and UK Prime Minister Tony Blair were accused of fanning the flames of anger in the Muslim world.

'Story must be told'

First footage of the pair after they were dropped off at Gaza's Beach Hotel showed them hugging colleagues inside the hotel lobby before running up the stairs.

The pair later appeared at a brief news conference alongside Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniya in which they spoke of their joy at being free and concerns that their abduction might deter other foreign journalists from reporting in Gaza.

"I hope that this never scares a single journalist away from coming to Gaza to cover the story because the Palestinian people are very beautiful and kind-hearted," Mr Centanni said. "The world needs to know more about them. Don't be discouraged."

Mr Wiig also urged journalists not to be put off, saying that "would be a great tragedy for the people of Gaza".

Mr Wiig's wife, former BBC News presenter Anita McNaught, who was also at the news conference, thanked Palestinian officials and Fox News for their efforts in getting the men released.

She had been prominent in calling for the men's release and met Mr Haniya to discuss the kidnappings.

After the news conference the men travelled to the Erez border crossing in the northern Gaza Strip and crossed into Israel.

A deadline set by the kidnappers for their demands to be met expired at midday (0900 GMT) on Saturday.

Over the past two years, a number of foreigners have been kidnapped in Gaza. All have been freed unharmed.