BBC Correspondent Rupert Wingfield-Hayes Expelled From North Korea, Along With Producer and Cameraman

By Andrew Simontacchi
Andrew Simontacchi
Andrew Simontacchi
May 9, 2016 Updated: May 9, 2016

Reporting ahead of a Workers’s Party Congress ruling, BBC correspondent Rupert Wingfield-Hayes, producer Maria Byrne, and cameraman Matthew Goddard were expelled from North Korea on May 6 after being held by officials, according to BBC.

High ranking North Korean officials state they were displeased with the team’s reporting of their life in the capital, claiming they had been “speaking very ill of the system,” according to BBC, citing a North Korean government spokesperson. 

The trio was reportedly held by North Korean officials for eight hours in the Pyongyang airport before signing a statement and being sent back to Beijing. They were in North Korea ahead of a congress delegation decision regarding a Nobel prize research trip, according to the publication.

The secretary general for North Korea, O Ryong Il, said, “We have decided to expel the Tokyo BBC correspondent Rupert Wingfield-Hayes from the territory of the DPRK, and we are going to never admit him again into the country for any report,” according to CNN. “We think that if the BBC is a genuine, true, international media organization you should be acting in such a way as to respect the law and system in the country, and you must admit your mistakes.”

Meanwhile, BBC crew members took to Twitter to give updates on their situation.

“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,” a BBC spokesman 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.”

Shortly after the events, The Committee to Protect Journalists released a written statement condemning the detention and subsequent expulsion of the crew.

“North Korea cannot allow journalists into the country and then obstruct and harass them when they do their jobs,” CPJ Asia Program Senior Research Associate Sumit Galhotra said in the release. “Pyongyang has sent a clear signal that it remains deeply hostile to journalists.”