London: A British journalist from the
Guardian newspaper has been expelled from Russia after reporting claims in US diplomatic cables that the country had become a "mafia state", the paper has said.
Luke Harding, the daily`s Moscow correspondent, flew back
to the Russian capital at the weekend after two months in
London reporting on the contents of the US cables, given to
his paper by whistleblowing website WikiLeaks.
But he was refused entry when his passport was checked on
arrival and, after 45 minutes in an airport cell, was sent
back to Britain on the next available plane, the Guardian said
He was given no specific reason for the decision, said
"I didn`t go out to Russia with any particular agenda and
I`m sad to leave under these circumstances," Harding was cited
as saying in the Guardian.
"But I do not think journalists can accept
Alan Rusbridger, Guardian editor-in-chief, described the
expulsion as "a very troubling development."
"It is worrying that the Russian government should now
kick out reporters of whom they disapprove," he said.
Foreign Secretary William Hague has telephoned the
Russian foreign affairs ministry to seek an explanation for
Harding`s expulsion but as yet has received no response, the
Foreign Office said.
Harding`s expulsion follows his reporting in December on
assessments of modern Russia from the US cables, which listed
a string of damaging allegations about the links between top
officials, oligarchs and organised crime.
A Spanish prosecutor was quoted describing Russia as a
"mafia state", while a top US official was cited questioning
whether Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin knew beforehand
about a plot to kill dissident Alexander Litvinenko.
Harding also coauthored a book, "WikiLeaks: Inside Julian
Assange`s War on Secrecy", lifting the lid on the paper`s
publication of the confidential documents.