RTÉ journalist forced to flee China due to threats towards her husband and family 2 weeks ago

RTÉ journalist forced to flee China due to threats towards her husband and family

"It had become intolerable, on the morning of our departure, there were plain clothes police outside our home watching us and our children."

An Irish journalist working in China has been forced to flee the country amid concerns for the safety of her husband and her family.

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Yvonne Murray, RTÉ's Beijing Correspondent, and her husband, BBC China Correspondent John Sudworth, made the decision to leave the country after coming under increased surveillance and intimidation by the authorities.

Speaking on RTÉ's News At One, she said: "We left in a hurry as the pressure and threats from the Chinese government, which have been going on for some time, became too much.

"The authorities took issue with my husband's reporting. He works for the BBC and has reported extensively on the incarceration of Uighurs in Xinjiang, as well as the origins of the virus in China."

The couple had been based in China for the last nine years and had lived there with their three children.

Speaking on RTÉ Radio 1's News at One with Bryan Dobson, Murray said she has relocated to Taipei, where she will continue to report on China.

"We put up with this for a very long time, but in the end we just couldn't justify raising a young family in that kind of atmosphere and, in a way, to confirm it had become intolerable, on the morning of our departure, there were plain clothes police outside our home watching us and our children load our suitcases the taxi and then we were followed all the way to the airport, watched by secret police in the check-in area," she said.

"So this was very frightening for the children and it definitely confirmed to us that we were making the right decision."

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In a statement, the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China said Sudworth had left following concerns arising from his coverage of the Covid-19 pandemic in China and his reporting on the Xinjiang area.

"The FCCC is concerned and saddened to learn that John Sudworth, the BBC’s award-winning China correspondent for the last nine years, left mainland China at short notice on March 23rd amid concerns for his safety and that of his family," the statement read.

"Sudworth left after months of personal attacks and disinformation targeting him and his BBC colleagues, disseminated by both Chinese state media and Chinese government officials."

The statement added: "In particular, the FCCC calls for an end to dangerous, personal attacks on individual reporters and foreign media outlets."