North Korea says it is expelling a BBC journalist for allegedly "insulting the dignity" of the authoritarian country, which has invited scores of foreign media for its ongoing ruling party congress.

O Ryong Il, secretary-general of the North's National Peace Committee, said Monday that news coverage by the BBC's Rupert Wingfield-Hayes distorted facts and "spoke ill of the system and the leadership of the country." He said Wingfield-Hayes wrote an apology, was being expelled and would never be admitted into the country again.

The BBC says Wingfield-Hayes was detained Friday along with producer Maria Byrne and cameraman Matthew Goddard, and that all have been taken to the Pyongyang airport. It said they were in North Korea before the congress and had accompanied a group of Nobel laureates on a trip.