Al-Jazeera reporter expelled from China

May 8, 2012 at 7:30 AM

BEIJING, May 8 (UPI) -- Al-Jazeera says it was forced to close its English-language news operation in China after officials refused to renew its Beijing reporter's press credentials.

Al-Jazeera correspondent Melissa Chan declined to comment on her planned departure from Beijing Monday night but media reports suggest Chinese officials may have been upset about an al-Jazeera documentary about Chinese labor camps, The New York Times said Tuesday.

The Foreign Correspondents' Club of China said Chan, an American, played no role in the documentary. The group said Chinese officials attributed the refusal to renew her visa to unspecified rules violations.

Al-Jazeera, a satellite news broadcaster based in the Middle East, said it is has been unable to obtain additional visas for other journalists to fill Chan's post.

The Times said Chan is believed to be the first accredited foreign correspondent to be denied reporting privileges since 1998.

"We constantly cover the voice of the voiceless, and sometimes that calls for tough news coverage from anywhere in world," Salah Negm, al-Jazeera's English news director, was quoted as saying in a written statement. "We hope China appreciates the integrity of our news coverage and our journalism. We value this journalistic integrity in our coverage of all countries in the world."

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