BEIJING -- Responding for the first time publicly to the case of a reporter for The New York Times who was forced to leave mainland China, the country's Foreign Ministry said on Friday that he had not been expelled but that his visa application had simply been filed incorrectly.
Speaking at the Foreign Ministry's daily news briefing, Hua Chunying, a spokeswoman, said foreign news organizations were to blame for the departure on Monday of Chris Buckley, a 45-year-old Australian who had been a correspondent for Reuters until September, when he rejoined The New York Times.
Ms. Hua said the ministry had not been properly informed of his changed status.
"So far, we have neither received any notice of resignation (from Reuters), nor has the press card, which was issued by the information department (of the Foreign Ministry), been returned by Chris Buckley," Ms. Hua said, according to the Xinhua news agency. "So, we do not know who his real boss is now."
When Mr. Buckley's visa, which had been issued while he worked for Reuters, ran out on Dec. 31, he and his family were forced to fly to Hong Kong, despite repeated requests from The Times for a new visa to be issued.
Ms. Hua said he was not expelled.
"There has been no such thing as a rejection of a visa extension and there is no such thing as Chris being expelled," Ms. Hua said, according to The Associated Press.
On a related matter, The Times is also waiting for the visa of its new Beijing bureau chief, Philip P. Pan, to be issued. Mr. Pan first requested a visa last March. The English- and Chinese-language Web sites of The Times have been blocked in China since October, when it published an investigative article about the finances of the family of China's premier, Wen Jiabao.
Correction: January 4, 2013, Friday
This article has been revised to reflect the following correction: An earlier version of this article misstated the job title of Philip P. Pan. He is the new Beijing bureau chief of The New York Times, not the China bureau chief.
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.