Journalists' Kidnapping Protested In Gaza City

Associated Press
Sunday, August 20, 2006

GAZA CITY, Aug. 19 -- Palestinian journalists on Saturday protested 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 taken Monday from their TV van near the Palestinian security services headquarters in Gaza City.

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

Jennifer Griffin, 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," Griffin said.

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.

Security officials said they were concerned for the Fox journalists because no other foreigners have been held this long and all major militant groups in Gaza have denied involvement.

Khaled al-Batch, a leader of the Islamic Jihad militant group, said kidnapping members of the news 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.

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