North Korea expels BBC journalists

North Korea has expelled a BBC journalist and his team because he had been "speaking very ill of the system" in his reporting, the British broadcaster said Monday.

Reporter Rupert Wingfield-Hayes, producer Maria Byrne and camera operator Matthew Goddard were detained on Friday when they were about to leave the isolated communist country.

They remained in Pyongyang over the weekend and flew to Beijing on Monday, the BBC said.

"The North Korean leadership was displeased with their reports highlighting aspects of life in the capital (Pyongyang)," it said, adding that Wingfield-Hayes was interrogated for eight hours and had to sign a statement.

"We are very disappointed that our reporter Rupert Wingfield-Hayes and his team have been deported from North Korea after the government took offence at material he had filed," the broadcaster said.

"Four BBC staff, who were invited to cover the Workers' Party Congress, remain in North Korea and we expect them to be allowed to continue their reporting."

The BBC quoted a North Korean government spokesperson as saying on Monday that Wingfield-Hayes and his team had been "speaking very ill of the [political] system."

The team had been in North Korea to accompany a group of Nobel prizewinners on a research trip.

North Korea has been holding the first congress for 36 years of the Korean Workers' Party, which runs the one-party state.

During the congress in Pyongyang, leader Kim Jong Un vowed not to use nuclear weapons unless attacked, state-run media said Sunday.

The gathering is being seen as a way for Kim to consolidate his position as supreme leader of the secretive nation.

Foreign journalists visiting North Korea normally have to go through strict vetting procedures, promise to stick to reporting on agreed subjects, and pay fixed daily rates in foreign currency for packages of accommodation, organised activities and official chaperones.

Last update: Mon, 09/05/2016 - 13:52

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