News / Europe

British Journalist Expelled from Moscow

‘The Guardian' newspaper's Moscow correspondent Luke Harding ( file photo)
‘The Guardian' newspaper's Moscow correspondent Luke Harding ( file photo)
Jennifer Glasse

Russia has expelled a British journalist, believed to be the first expulsion of a British staff journalist since the Cold War. The action comes after The Guardian newspaper reported that Russia had become a "virtual mafia state" under Vladimir Putin, a phrase that came from the Wikileaks cables.

Until last weekend, Luke Harding was the Moscow correspondent for the London newspaper, The Guardian. When he flew to Moscow on Saturday, and handed over his passport at the airport, the woman behind the counter looked surprised.

"My passport was taken away and then, very quickly, another 7 or 8 minutes, a young man from the Federal border service came out and said, ‘For you the Russian Federation is closed'," Harding said.

Harding had a valid visa and accreditation. The authorities said that did not guarantee him entry into Russia and put him into a cell with 4 Tajiks, a Kyrgyz man and a woman from Congo who had been there a week. All were awaiting deportation. Harding says he was in the cell about 15 minutes when his luggage was brought to him.

"Half an hour after that I was led through security, back on to the plane that I’d just arrived in and finally, once someone had signed for me on the plane I got my passport back with a big blue stamp over the visa with the words annulled, and that was it, that was the end of my four year career as a reporter in Moscow," Harding added.

Harding had been warned by Russian authorities they didn’t like his reporting.

"There are certain stories you don’t write about, you don’t write about Vladimir Putin’s alleged personal fortune hidden overseas, you don’t write about the activities of the intelligence services in Russia and you’re not really supposed to write about the really disastrously counterproductive ant-terrorism campaign if you live in Russia’s North Caucasus where there’s a big war going on, and I kind of bust all those taboos really," he added.

But he believes it was his reports based on the U.S. Embassy cables leaked by WikiLeaks that prompted the expulsion. One report stated U.S. officials thought Russia was a "virtual mafia state" under Vladimir Putin. Harding says the cables were enlightening.

"There’s astonishing stuff in them, and basically showed that U.S. diplomats took a really dim view of Russia and basically thought it was a corrupt kleptocracy," Harding said.

He says he was just doing his job.

"I think if any decent journalist had the material, was the first person to look at the material from Russia on the cables, they would have written rather similar stories to me," he said.

Harding acknowledges his experience was mild compared to the type of danger and harassment that Russian journalists face.

“Journalists are routinely beat up in Russia and quite frequently they are murdered and the perpetrators are mysteriously never found,” said Harding.

More than 30 reporters have been killed in Russia since 1993, and about three dozen were attacked in 2010. Russia ranks 140th out of 178 countries in the Reporters Without Borders 2010 press freedom index.

The free speech organization called the expulsion "a heavy-handed attempt to get journalists to censor themselves and to prevent impartial coverage of what is happening in Russia."

The Guardian reported that Harding is believed to be the first British staff journalist to be expelled since the Cold War. Harding says it is not a positive development.

He said, "This full-blown Soviet-style expulsion hasn’t happened for a while and I think it’s well, it’s an ominous sign isn’t it?"

The Russian Foreign Ministry said Harding had broken media rules, and might be allowed back into Russia if he fixes his accreditation problems.

You May Like

Arab League Delays Forming Joint Force

Delay grows out of one of original obstacles facing pan-Arab force, analysts say: 'They may agree on the principle, but they continue to argue about how to implement the project' More

Pakistan Demands Afghanistan Protect Its Kabul Mission, Staff

Officials in Islamabad say Afghan agents are harassing Pakistani embassy personnel, particularly those living outside of mission’s compound More

US Survey: Trump Lead Grows in Republican Presidential Contest

Quinnipiac University poll shows brash billionaire real estate mogul with 28 percent support among Republican voters More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs