World Service presents: BBC World Service reveals for the first time that 310 of its journalists are working in exile

Press release | BBC World Service and World Service gifts

Ahead of World Press Freedom Day on Friday 3 May, the BBC announces for the first time that more than 300 World Service journalists (around 15%) are working in exile.

Recent crackdowns on press freedom in Russia, Afghanistan and Ethiopia have forced more BBC crews to relocate for their own safety, with many leaving family and friends behind.

This new figure was announced at World Service Presents, a three-day series of events highlighting the brave work of journalists around the world and the state of press freedom globally.

Journalists face increasing pressure, including state interference, harassment and criminal charges, which are systematically used to try to undermine their work. BBC News Persian staff have been working in exile for more than a decade and continue to face harassment and persecution. Last month, the BBC World Service launched an urgent appeal to the UN over the abuse of national security and anti-terrorism laws against BBC News’ Persian journalists.

Following the invasion of Ukraine, Russian BBC News journalists and their families were transferred from Moscow to Riga, the capital of Latvia. Now, 39 BBC staff remain in Riga, continuing the work of reporting independent and impartial news to audiences around the world in Russian. They also play an active role in combating misinformation about the war.

On April 12, BBC Russian correspondent Ilya Barabanov was branded a “foreign agent” by the Russian Ministry of Justice. Barabanov has written extensively about Russia’s war in Ukraine. The government has used the “foreign agent” label to sideline journalists and critics of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Ilya and the BBC reject the decision, which they are challenging in court.

Ilya Barabanov says: “The most difficult part of exile is the lack of direct contact with people. We missed the opportunity to talk to our collaborators. The inability to travel around Russia, report from the ground, talk to real people: that is the most difficult part of being a journalist in exile.

“At the beginning of April, the Russian authorities designated me as a ‘foreign agent.’ This affected my status and my ability to talk to people. “Now I must warn my collaborators about this new and unpleasant status.”

Liliane Landor, director of the BBC World Service, says: “Press freedom is under increasing pressure at a time when millions of people voting in elections around the world need to be well informed about the options.” that await you. BBC news services are blocked or difficult to access in many countries, including China, Russia and Afghanistan.

“Our journalists face continued harassment and persecution from countries such as Iran and Russia, to name just two. “World Press Freedom Day is a stark reminder of the seriousness of the situation and underlines the urgent need for journalists around the world to be able to do their work unhindered.”

About BBC World Service presents:

BBC World Service Presents showcases the breadth of journalism BBC World Service delivers to 318 million people weekly across the world across 42 language services, including English. Over three days starting Monday 29 April, screenings, live program recordings, speeches and panel discussions will examine the key issues facing journalism and highlight the BBC’s unique position as the most trusted international news broadcaster of the world.