Hamas frees British journalist in Gaza

March 11, 2010 at 1:18 PM

GAZA, March 11 (UPI) -- A British journalist arrested by Hamas in Gaza a month ago was released Thursday and was on his way to Israel, officials said.

Journalist Paul Martin was seen getting into a car with British consular officials and heading toward the Erez border crossing into Israel, CNN reported.

Ahmed Yousef, an adviser to Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, said Martin's release was made as a "good will gesture," responding to calls the militant group received to let him go.

Saying the journalist was suspected of being involved in Israeli spy activity, Hamas Feb. 14 arrested Martin, a documentary maker who has worked for the BBC, ITN and other broadcasters.

When he was arrested, Hamas suggested Martin was communicating with a Palestinian associated with the Fatah movement and whom Hamas accused of collaborating with Israel, CNN reported. Yousef said Hamas leaders determined they didn't have enough evidence to pursue the matter.

He said Martin was declared persona non grata in Gaza and said it would be "dangerous for him to come back."

British consular officials were allowed to visit Martin while he was in jail.

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