Alan Johnston is free

Not the Allan J who used to play for us – and whose sudden departure after the 1999 promotion denied us the chance to see the terrific Johnston/Gray partnership in action in the Premiership.

This is a rather more serious matter. The Alan Johnston I have in mind is the BBC correspondent who has just been freed after 16 weeks of capitivity in the hands of Islamist fanatics in Gaza.

His face has appeared here for much of that period, and will soon be removed.

But as I have said at my main site, Salut! , I will keep it for most of today, mostly as a mark of respect from Salut! Sunderland for all those who are victims of the singularly inhuman act of taking a person hostage and using his or her life, safety or freedom as a negotiating counter.

And I aim that thought at kidnappers of any religion or none, and their victims, ranging from Ingrid Betancourt in Colombia to thousands of less publicised prisoners around the world.

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