MEMBER PRESS RELEASE

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

1st May 2024
Ahead of World Press Freedom Day on Friday 3 May, the BBC is announcing for the first time that over 300 World Service journalists – around 15% – are working in exile.
BBC News World Service Logo

This press release was originally published by BBC World Service and World Service Presents. 


Ahead of World Press Freedom Day on Friday 3 May, the BBC is announcing for the first time that over 300 World Service journalists – around 15% – are working in exile.

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

Read more: BBC World Service announces Emergency Radio Service for Gaza

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

Journalists are facing increasing pressure, including state interference, harassment, and criminal charges, which are consistently used to attempt to undermine their work. Staff at BBC News Persian have been working in exile for over a decade and continue to face harassment and persecution. Last month, the BBC World Service filed an urgent appeal to the UN over abuse of national security and counter-terrorism laws against BBC News Persian journalists.

Following the invasion of Ukraine, BBC News Russian journalists and their families were moved out of Moscow to the Latvian capital of Riga. 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 part in countering disinformation about the war.

Subscribe toour newsletter

Keep updated with the latest public
media news from around the world

On 12 April, BBC Russian correspondent Ilya Barabanov was labelled as a “foreign agent” by the Russian justice ministry. Barabanov has written extensively about Russia’s war in Ukraine. The “foreign agent” label has been used by the government to marginalise journalists and critics of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.  Ilya and the BBC reject the decision, which they are disputing in court.

“World Press Freedom Day is a stark reminder of the gravity of the situation underscoring the urgent need for journalists everywhere to be able to do their job unhindered.” – Liliane Landor, Director, BBC World Service

Ilya Barabanov, says: “The most difficult part about exile is the lack of direct contact with people. We lost the opportunity to talk to our contributors. The inability to travel around Russia, report from the field, talk to real people – that’s the hardest part about being a journalist in exile.

“In early April, the Russian authorities designated me a “foreign agent”. This affected my status and ability to talk to people. I now must warn my contributors about this new, unpleasant status.”

Liliane Landor, Director, BBC World Service says: “Press freedom is under increasingly intense pressure at a time when millions, voting in elections around the world, need to be well-informed of the choices ahead of them. The BBC’s news services are blocked or difficult to access in many countries including China, Russia and Afghanistan.

“Our journalists face ongoing harassment and persecution from countries such as Iran and Russia to name but two. World Press Freedom Day is a stark reminder of the gravity of the situation underscoring the urgent need for journalists everywhere to be able to do their job unhindered.”


About BBC World Service Presents

BBC World Service Presents showcases the breadth of journalism provided by the BBC World Service to 318m people weekly around the globe across 42 language services including English. For three days from Monday 29 April, screenings, live programme recordings, speeches and panel discussions will examine the key issues facing journalism and highlight the BBC’s unique position as the world’s most trusted international news broadcaster.