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BBC Journalist Rupert Wingfield-Hayes Detained In North Korea With Crew

'He was taken to a separate hotel and interrogated for eight hours.'

09/05/2016 07:55 | Updated 09 May 2016

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 after for "improper reportage" about leader Kim Jong-Un, The Express reports.

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.

North Korea BBC Journalist

Mr Wingfield-Hayes was accused of an alleged "inappropriate description" of leader Kim Jong Un, according to reports.

The team has now been taken to the airport, The Press Association reported.

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."

STR via Getty Images

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.

BBC presenter Jeremy Vine tweeted about the irony that North Korea wanted to be seen as a free society - yet had detained a journalist who criticised it:

North Korea granted visas to 128 journalists from 12 countries, HuffPost US reported. Their movements are closely managed and as of Monday morning they had yet to get access to the proceedings of the party congress, which began on Friday.

Mr Wingfield-Hayes was attacked while working in Libya in 2011. He was accompanying rebels into central Tripoli when pro-Gaddafi forces attacked his convoy.

 

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