A British Broadcasting Corporation journalist has relocated from China to Taiwan out of concerns for his safety, the broadcaster and a journalist group said Wednesday.
The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China said John Sudworth left China last week “amid concerns for his safety and that of his family.”
Sudworth’s relocation came because China has been critical of the BBC’s coverage of alleged human rights abuses against Uighur Muslims in the Xinjiang region, according to the BBC.
Sudworth has not been credited in the reports, but China’s foreign ministry and the Communist Party-supported media has, nevertheless, criticized him.
Sudworth, who was based in China for nine years, won a George Polk Award in 2020 for reporting on internment camps for Muslims in the Xinjiang region.
China has rejected allegations of abuses at the camps, maintaining they were vocational training centers.
“John’s work has exposed truths the Chinese authorities did not want the world to know,” the BBC tweeted.
In an interview with BBC radio, Sudworth said he left the country after being subjected to surveillance, obstruction, intimidation, and threats of legal action.
“We left in a hurry, followed by plainclothes police all the way to the airport through the check-in,” Sudworth said.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters at a regularly scheduled news briefing that the government was at a loss over Sundworth’s departure.
“We never threatened him,” she said. “We don’t know why he left because he didn’t say goodbye.”
The BBC said Sudworth would maintain his position as its China correspondent.
Sudworth’s wife, Yvonne Murray, a correspondent for Irish broadcaster RTE, departed the country with him, the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China said.
China expelled 18 journalists employed by U.S. media outlets last year, when there was a “rapid decline in media freedom,” the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China said in a report released earlier in March.