A New York Times journalist has been expelled from China in an apparent act of retaliation for a news report about the family wealth of the Chinese Premier, Wen Jiabao.
According to Australia's Fairfax media, Chinese authorities declined to renew the annual media accreditation and residence visa of Australian journalist Chris Buckley, who had lived 15 years in China.
Buckley, who had who rejoined the NYT in October after a stint at Reuters, had received no official explanation for his expulsion.
However, it followed an Oct. 25 investigative report by an NYT colleague revealing that Wen's close relatives had acquired at least $2.7 billion in assets.
The NYT, however, was reporting late Monday that Buckley was forced to leave over a "visa issue."
The Times made mention of its "long investigation into the riches of the family of Prime Minister Wen Jiabao," and linked to the reporting by David Barboza, published in October.
It pointed out that although corruption was widely reported in China, "top leaders are considered off limits," and it noted that both its English-language Web site and its new Chinese-language site remained blocked in China.
The NYT added that it was also waiting for its new Beijing bureau chief, Philip P. Pan, to be accredited after submitting an application in March for his visa, which had still not been processed.
The Guardian cited NYT executive editor Jill Abramson as saying:
"I regret that Chris Buckley has been forced to relocate outside of China despite our repeated requests to renew his journalist visa. I hope the Chinese authorities will issue him a new visa as soon as possible and allow Chris and his family to return to Beijing. I also hope that Phil Pan, whose application for journalist credentials has been pending for many months, will also be issued a visa to serve as our bureau chief in Beijing."
Buckley flew out of Beijing at 6.30pm on Monday with his wife and daughter, 12, Fairfax reported.