North Korea detains and expels BBC team

British broadcaster says correspondent covering ruling party congress was questioned for eight hours.

Rupert Wingfield-Hayes BBC
Rupert Wingfield-Hayes and his team were part of a large group of reporters covering a rare congress of the ruling party [BBC]

North Korea has detained a team of BBC journalists and ordered their expulsion over their news reporting, the British broadcaster said.

The network’s Tokyo correspondent Rupert Wingfield-Hayes, producer Maria Byrne and cameraman Matthew Goddard were stopped by officials on Friday as they were about to leave North Korea, the BBC said on Monday.

The BBC’s @wingcommander1 was one of three BBC staff detained in North Korea on Friday

The journalists were part of a large group of foreign reporters covering the first congress of the country’s ruling party in 35 years.

Wingfield-Hayes “was questioned for eight hours by North Korean officials and made to sign a statement”, the network said.

“All three were held over the weekend, but have now been taken to the airport,” it added.

China’s Xinhua news agency cited a North Korean official as saying that Wingfield-Hayes was detained for “improper reportage”.

At a press conference early on Monday, an official with North Korea’s National Peace Committee criticised Wingfield-Hayes for “speaking very ill of the system and the leadership of the country.

“We are never going to allow him back into the country for any reporting,” he said.

There are currently around 130 foreign journalists in Pyongyang from all over the world, all of whom were invited to cover the Workers’ Party congress.

The BBC said four of its staff remain in North Korea, “and we expect them to be allowed to continue their reporting”.

Inside Story – What’s behind North Korea’s rare party congress?

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies