North Korea expels detained BBC journalist

  • 09/05/2016
North Korea expels detained BBC journalist

North Korea has expelled a BBC journalist over his reporting, the broadcaster and a North Korean official said, as a large group of foreign media members visited the isolated country to cover a rare ruling party congress.

Rupert Wingfield-Hayes was detained on Friday (local time) as he was about to leave the country and taken away for eight hours of questioning and "made to sign a statement", the network said.

The British reporter was on a flight for Beijing on Monday afternoon along with a BBC producer and cameraman he was travelling with, a person familiar with the matter told Reuters.

Wingfield-Hayes had "distorted facts and realities" in his coverage, North Korean official O Ryong Il said in announcing that Wingfield-Hayes, who is based in Tokyo, was being expelled and would never be let in again.

"They were speaking very ill of the system, the leadership of the country," O, who is secretary general of a National Peace Committee, told reporters in Pyongyang, according to a video clip published by the Associated Press.

Another BBC correspondent in Pyongyang, John Sudworth, said in a broadcast report there was "disagreement, a concern over the content of Rupert's reporting", including questioning the authenticity of a hospital.

In his report of a visit to the children's hospital in Pyongyang, Wingfield-Hayes said the patients looked "remarkably well" and there was not a real doctor on duty.

"Everything we see looks like a set-up," he said.

In another report, Wingfield-Hayes noted that his official minders were "rather upset with us" over trying to do a report in front of a statute of founding leader Kim Il Sung.

"They clearly felt we said stuff that was not respectful," of Kim, he said in his report.

"Now, we are in trouble," he said, adding that the BBC team had been told to delete its footage.

Sudworth said in his report Wingfield-Hayes had been prevented from leaving on Friday and taken away.

"[He] was separated from the rest of his team, prevented from boarding that flight, taken to a hotel and interrogated by the security bureau here in Pyongyang before being made to sign a statement and then released, eventually allowed to rejoin us here in this hotel," Sudworth said.