Page last updated at 13:20 GMT, Monday, 28 April 2008 14:20 UK

Nepal bans reporting from Everest

By Charles Haviland
BBC News, Nepal

Mount Everest (file photo)
Mount Everest seen from above base camp in Nepal

The government of Nepal has expelled the BBC from the base camp on the Nepalese side of Mount Everest.

The Nepalese authorities have imposed a complete communication ban on journalists from the base camp upwards.

The move comes as the Chinese prepare to take the Olympic torch up their side of the mountain.

The torch is ascending on the Chinese controlled Tibetan side of the mountain where it is being reported on by local and foreign journalists.

Just a short while after arriving in Everest base camp we were politely but firmly told to leave by an official from Nepal's ministry of tourism.

'Friend China'

We knew there were restrictions on video cameras and satellite phones but were now told even pre-recorded radio material on non-political subjects would not be allowed.

Nor would chats with mountaineers.

"We are doing this for our friend China," the official said.

China has been leaning on Nepal to prevent any possible disruption to the Everest leg of the Olympic torch relay due soon.

The flame is not coming anywhere near the Nepal base camp but an American man with a pro-Tibet flag was sent down from the camp last week and China is worried.

Its ambassador visited the camp a few days ago with Nepalese soldiers who have been given the right to use force if necessary against disruptors of the torch.

With the upper parts of the mountain closed until the torch has been and gone, base camp is teeming with frustrated mountaineers unable to make the high sorties they need to acclimatise before their final attempts on Everest and its neighbour Lhotse.

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