North Korea detains, expels BBC correspondent
A BBC journalist and his team who covered a congress of the ruling Workers' Party in North Korea are being expelled from the hermit nation after they were detained, the broadcaster said on Monday.
Tokyo correspondent Rupert Wingfield-Hayes, producer Maria Byrne and cameraman Matthew Goddard were about to depart from North Korea on Friday when authorities stopped them, the BBC said. They questioned Wingfield-Hayes for eight hours, then forced him to sign a statement. The three journalists were held until Monday, according to the broadcaster.
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John Sudworth, a BBC correspondent reporting from Pyongyang, said there was a "concern over the content of Rupert's reporting," according to Reuters. North Korean authorities have said their problem was with what they described as "disrespectful" reporting from the country, according to CNN.
"When he reached the airport on Friday, 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, Reuters reported.
The BBC said that all three were taken to the airport on Monday in Pyongyang. Wingfield-Hayes will not be allowed back into the North Korea, authorities in the country said, CNN reported.
The Committee to Protect Journalists ranked North Korea as the second-most censored nation worldwide in 2015, after Eritrea. The Associated Press was allowed to enter the country in 2012, and more than 100 journalists were given visas to enter North Korea to cover the congress last week. But it is incredibly difficult for locals to access independent information.
"Nearly all the content of North Korea's 12 main newspapers, 20 periodicals, and broadcasters comes from the official Korean Central News Agency, which focuses on the political leadership's statements and activities," according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. Only the elite politicians can use the Internet, aside from some state institutions and schools that can access restricted intranet, it says.