INDEPENDENT - Wed, 04 Jul 2007 06:36:29 GMT
Kidnapped British journalist Alan Johnston was freed today after almost four months.
Mr Johnston said he was speaking from the home of Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh.
He said the kidnappers had seemed very "comfortable" and "sure of themselves" until a couple of weeks ago when it became clear Hamas was going to be in charge of the security operation in Gaza.
"I know Hamas security forces did a lot to make their presence felt," he said.
"I might have been in that room for a lot longer."
He also said during the past five days he had been moved twice as his kidnappers became more anxious.
"I know how much the Palestinian people were feeling this wasn't right," he said.
"I have to say especially to Palestinian journalists how much they were pressing, pressing for efforts to free me.
"Across the Palestinian political spectrum there was condemnation."
Ismail Haniyeh, former Prime Minister of the Palestinian National Authority, said he wanted to thank the Popular Resistance Committees for their efforts to free Mr Johnston.
He said the cooperation showed the strength of people working together in Palestine.
He presented Mr Johnston with gifts including a Palestinian flag.
Hamas had demanded Johnston's freedom since it violently seized control of Gaza last month, in an apparent bid to gain favour with the West.
Yesterday, Hamas gunmen took positions around the stronghold of the Army of Islam, the shadowy group holding Johnston, stepping up the pressure to secure his release.
Johnston was kidnapped from a Gaza City street on March 12.
Hamas had said it knew where to find him but had not raided the hideout for fear he would be harmed.
But yesterday, members of Hamas' 6,000-strong militia moved on to rooftops of high-rise buildings and deployed gunmen in streets in the Gaza City neighbourhood inhabited by the Doghmush clan. The large, heavily armed family leads the Army of Islam.
Within hours, Alan Johnston was free.