Alan Johnston, the BBC journalist held hostage in the Gaza Strip since March, was handed over by his Islamist captors to Hamas officials on Wednesday. The 45-year-old Briton was taken into the care of officials from the Hamas movement, which seized full control of Gaza three weeks ago. "I was released a couple of hours ago. It was an appalling experience as you can imagine. Occasionally quite terrifying... Now it really is over," Johnston told BBC News from the home of Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh. The journalist added: "I am hugely grateful to the people who worked [for the release]. I think I am OK. to keep my mind in the right place was a constant battle." Johnston, the only Western correspondent working full-time in the Strip, went missing on March 12."I dreamt many times of being free and always woke up back
in that room ... It's an amazing thing to be free," he said, sounding composed though somewhat tired. Johnston said he had followed events on a radio during most of his time as a hostage and thanked people round the world, as well as his colleagues at the British public broadcaster, for their support and efforts to help secure his release. He said he had spoken briefly to his family in Scotland.