CNN producer abducted in Gaza
Monday, September 27, 2004 Posted: 5:45 PM EDT (2145 GMT)
GAZA CITY (CNN) -- A group of armed men abducted a CNN producer in Gaza City on Monday.
There has been no claim of responsibility for the abduction of CNN producer Riad Ali, and the militant group Hamas condemned it.
"We emphasize that this ugly incident is a violation of the sanctity of journalism and contradicts the morals of the Palestinian people," Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said.
CNN correspondent Ben Wedeman said he, Ali and CNN photographer Mary Rogers had left their Gaza office in a taxi when a white Peugeot pulled in front of them, blocking their way, around 6:35 p.m. (11:35 a.m. ET).
Wedeman said a man in his early 20s and dressed in civilian clothes emerged from the car, stuck a revolver through the taxi window and "said to me in Arabic, 'Which one of you is Riad?' "
"We were dumbstruck at first, but Riad then said, 'I am Riad.' And then other men got out of the car that had pulled in front of us, and they were carrying AK-47 assault rifles, and they said to Riad, 'Get out of the car,' " Wedeman said.
He said Ali was forced into the back of the Peugeot, which then drove away. No one was injured.
Wedeman said the kidnappers made no attempt to cover their faces.
Wedeman said CNN has contacted Palestinian security authorities in Gaza, but there was no new information on Ali's status.
Ali, who is an Arab, has worked for the network for about two years, traveling extensively in Gaza and the West Bank as part of his assignments.
Wedeman described Ali as someone who has worked in Gaza "for several years and has good contacts." Ali had spent the morning trying to set up interviews, Wedeman said.
"He's somebody you can rely on to get a good reading of the local situation -- and certainly not the sort of person you would expect to fall into a situation like this," Wedeman said.
"We have always been able to operate here without too much trouble," he said.
At CNN headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia, CNN President Jim Walton said, "We are working actively for Riad's safe return and are in touch with his family, offering them our full support during this difficult time. We have not yet heard from his abductors but urge them to release Riad immediately. He is a veteran journalist of the highest integrity."
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Wow, it contradicts the morals of the Palesinian people. Silly me, I was beginning to think they didn't have any.