BBC crew detained in North Korea


North Korea expels BBC journalist for 'distorting facts'

A BBC reporter, a producer and a cameraman have been detained in North Korea and are being expelled from the country, the BBC has said.

Rupert Wingfield-Hayes, producer Maria Byrne and cameraman Matthew Goddard were detained on Friday as they were about to leave the reclusive communist state.

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

The team has now been taken to the airport.

All three were in Pyongyang ahead of the Workers Party Congress. They were accompanying a delegation of Nobel prize laureates on a research trip.

Another BBC journalist, Stephen Evans, the Seoul correspondent, is still in Pyongyang.

He said the North Korean leadership was displeased with their reports.

Mr Evans said Mr Wingfield-Hayes was singled out over some of his reports for TV and online.

Speaking live to Radio 4's Today programme he said: "They were, as I understand, at the airport waiting to get on a flight.

"Just as they were about to board the flight, Rupert was held back.

"He was then taken to a hotel, a separate hotel to where we were and interrogated for eight hours."

An interrogator told Mr Wingfield-Hayes he had been the official to prosecute Kenneth Bae - a Korean-American missionary who was sentenced to 15 years' hard labour in the country.

Mr Evans said that Mr Wingfield-Hayes was told to sign a confession confirming that his work had been inaccurate and the authorities were particularly concerned about two incidents.

In one, Mr Wingfield-Hayes had questioned whether a visit by VIPs to a hospital had been staged by the authorities to make it seem better than it was, and another one when a cameraman was asked to delete pictures.

He said he believed his three colleagues were currently at the airport waiting to leave.