BBC's Thompson to make appeal for Johnston


LONDON -- BBC director general Mark Thompson is cutting his Easter holiday short and traveling to the Middle East to make a personal appeal for the return of abducted correspondent Alan Johnston, the BBC said late Wednesday.

The director general will meet Thursday with local government representatives and give a press conference in the region to appeal for the release of BBC Gaza correspondent Alan Johnston, a month to the day after he first went missing.

The BBC declined to give further details of the press conference, citing security reasons, but said that a separate press conference, hosted by BBC head of news Helen Boaden and Johnson's parents Graham and Margaret Johnston, will be held in London.

"It is now more than a month since his disappearance in Gaza and his family and colleagues at the BBC are increasingly concerned for his well being," the BBC said in a statement. "Alan's parents now want to appeal to the hostage takers for his immediate release."

The two press conferences will be part of a day of action that also will include a news special on the kidnapping to be hosted by CNN, Al Jazeera and Sky News as well as BBC News 24 and BBC World.