Published August 20, 2006
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip – A New Zealand envoy and the brother of an American reporter made separate televised pleas Sunday urging militants to release two FOX News journalists kidnapped last week in the Gaza Strip.
American correspondent Steve Centanni, 60, and cameraman Olaf Wiig, 36, of New Zealand were seized Aug. 14 from their TV van near the Palestinian security services headquarters in Gaza City.
The New Zealand envoy, Peter Ridder, spoke outside the office of Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh in Gaza City shortly after the two men met. Ridder said Haniyeh gave him his personal commitment that returning the men safely was a top Palestinian government priority.
"Just like the family, we are very concerned about the safety and security of the hostages, and we are working together to try to secure their safe return," Ridder said.
Asked if he had a message for the abductors, the envoy replied, "Please release these men."
Centanni's brother Ken also appealed for his brother's safety, in comments shown on FOX television then later aired on the Arab satellite TV station, Al-Jazeera.
"Please contact our family," Ken Centanni urged. "Let us know he is alive and unharmed."
Ken LaCorte, a senior FOX News official, also arrived in Gaza on Sunday to press efforts to release the journalists.
More than two dozen foreigners have been abducted by Palestinian militants, usually in an attempt to settle personal scores, but almost all have been released within hours. This is the longest foreigners have been held.
Security officials are especially concerned because all the militant groups have denied involvement and no demands have been issued.
A statement from Haniyeh's office said the government firmly opposed kidnapping journalists and promised to secure the journalists' release.