Luke Harding

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Luke Harding
Luke Harding.jpeg
Born 1968 (age 49–50)
Education University College, Oxford (BA)
Occupation Journalist

Luke Daniel Harding (born 1968) is a British journalist who is a foreign correspondent for The Guardian. He was based in Russia for The Guardian from 2007 until, returning from a stay in the UK on 5 February 2011, he was refused re-entry to Russia and deported back the same day.[1] The Guardian said his expulsion was linked with his critical articles on Russia,[2] a claim denied by the Russian government. After the reversal of the decision on 9 February and the granting of a short-term visa, Harding chose not to seek a further visa extension.[2] His 2011 book Mafia State discusses his experience in Russia and the political system under Vladimir Putin, which he describes as a mafia state.

Early life and career[edit]

Harding graduated with an International Baccalaureate diploma from UWC Atlantic College, South Wales and studied English at University College, Oxford. While there he edited the student newspaper Cherwell. He worked for The Sunday Correspondent, the Evening Argus in Brighton and then the Daily Mail before joining The Guardian in 1996.[3]

He has lived in and reported from Delhi, Berlin, and Moscow, and has covered wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya.[4] In 2014 he was the recipient of the James Cameron prize for his work on Russia, Ukraine, WikiLeaks, and Edward Snowden.[5]

Russian expulsion[edit]

In February 2011, Harding was refused re-entry into Russia. According to Harding, this made him the first foreign journalist to be expelled from Russia since the end of the Cold War. The Guardian said his expulsion was linked with his unflattering coverage of Russia, including speculation about Vladimir Putin's wealth and Putin's knowledge of the London assassination of ex-Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko.[2] The director of Index on Censorship, John Kampfner, said "The Russian government's treatment of Luke Harding is petty and vindictive, and evidence – if more was needed – of the poor state of free expression in that country."[6] Elsa Vidal, head of the European and Central Asia desk at the media freedom watchdog, was quoted in The Washington Post as saying: "This is a serious and shocking step, unprecedented since the Cold War [...] It's an attempt to force correspondents working for foreign media in Moscow to engage in self-censorship."[7]

However, on the following day, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov explained at a press conference that no visa cancellation had taken place and the problem had been caused by the fact that Harding's visa had expired, a statement disputed by Harding due to his visa being valid until May of that year.[8] According to Lavrov, Harding had requested an exceptional visa extension until May which was approved. Lavrov also added that Harding had previously broken the rules of his press accreditation by visiting the area of counter-terrorism operations without informing the relevant security authorities.[9]

The expulsion preceded a visit to Britain by Lavrov, which led to suggestions from Labour MP Chris Bryant that the British government might rescind Lavrov's invitation.[10] On 9 February, Russia reversed the decision not to re-admit him[2] although it only granted him a short term visa. Harding chose not to seek a further visa and returned to the UK in February. Harding has said that during his time in Russia he was the subject of largely psychological harassment by the Federal Security Service, whom he alleges were unhappy at the stories he wrote.[11]


In 2011, a book written by Harding and David Leigh was published by Vintage Books in the US and Guardian Faber in the UK.[12] WikiLeaks: Inside Julian Assange's War on Secrecy was made into a Hollywood film, The Fifth Estate (2013).

Edward Snowden[edit]

Harding's book on Edward Snowden, The Snowden Files (2014), received a glowing review from The New York Times's Michiko Kakutani,[13] who noted that it “reads like a le Carré novel crossed with something by Kafka. . A fast-paced, almost novelistic narrative. . .. [The book] gives readers . . a succinct overview of the momentous events of the past year. . . . Leave[s] readers with an acute understanding of the serious issues involved”. Additionally, it received positive reviews from several other major publications, including The Guardian,[14] the London Review of Books,[15] and the Washington Post,[16] as well as a mixed review from The Daily Telegraph's David Blair.[17] It was adapted into a film, Snowden, directed by Oliver Stone and starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, released in September 2016.

Alexander Litvinenko[edit]

In 2016, Harding published A Very Expensive Poison, an account of the murder of the Russian ex-KGB whistle-blower and outspoken Putin critic Alexander Litvinenko. The book garnered a positive response from reviewers, including from the Spectator,[18] Guardian,[19] Times,[20] and London Review of Books;[21] Robert Fox, writing for the Evening Standard called it 'one of the best political thrillers [he had] come across in years'.[22] Lucy Prebble has adapted the book for the stage, with the play due to première in The Old Vic theatre, London in 2018.[23]

Donald Trump and Russia[edit]

In November 2017, Harding published Collusion: Secret Meetings, Dirty Money, and How Russia Helped Donald Trump Win on the subject of Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections. The book examines the dossier by a former British spy Christopher Steele, among other things.[24][25]



^a Published in the US as Expelled


  1. ^ Luke Harding (23 September 2011). "Enemy of the state", The Guardian.
  2. ^ a b c d Dan Sabbagh (9 February 2011). "Russia U-turns over Guardian journalist's deportation", The Guardian'.'
  3. ^ "Luke Harding". Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism. Retrieved 16 May 2018. 
  4. ^ Luke Harding's contributor page,
  5. ^ "Guardian’s Luke Harding wins prestigious James Cameron prize", "The Guardian"
  6. ^ Guardian's Moscow correspondent expelled from Russia, The Guardian
  7. ^ Russia expels U.K. reporter Luke Harding, who covered corruption, The Washington Post
  8. ^ "Luke Harding on Twitter". 
  9. ^ "Лавров: Люк Хардинг неоднократно нарушал правила аккредитации в России". 8 February 2011. 
  10. ^ Call to halt Russian foreign minister's visit after Guardian journalist expelled, The Guardian
  11. ^ Luke Harding (23 September 2011). "Enemy of the state". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 25 September 2011. 
  12. ^ "Review: Wikileaks: Inside Julian Assange's War On Secrecy by David Leigh and Luke Harding", The Independent (Eire), 18 November 2011
  13. ^ "The Needles in the Monumental N.S.A. Haystack ‘The Snowden Files,’ by Luke Harding" The New York Times
  14. ^ Runciman, David (13 February 2014). "The Snowden Files by Luke Harding – review". the Guardian. 
  15. ^ Daniel Soar reviews ‘The Snowden Files’ by Luke Harding · LRB 20 February 2014 – 'The London Review of Books'
  16. ^ "Opinions ‘The Snowden Files: The Inside Story of the World’s Most Wanted Man’ by Luke Harding" The Washington Post
  17. ^ Blair, David (11 February 2014). "The Snowden Files by Luke Harding, review" – via 
  18. ^ "The Litvinenko case: Mayfair murder most foul - The Spectator". 26 March 2016. 
  19. ^ "A Very Expensive Poison review – definitive account of Litvinenko murder". The Guardian. 
  20. ^ Burleigh, Michael (19 March 2016). "A Very Expensive Poison by Luke Harding" – via 
  21. ^ Pomerantsev, Peter (31 March 2016). "Murder in Mayfair". pp. 3–6 – via London Review of Books. 
  22. ^ "A Very Expensive Poison by Luke Harding - review". 
  23. ^ cite web|url=, assassins and strip clubs: death of Alexander Litvinenko adapted for stage
  24. ^ Luke Harding (15 November 2017). "How Trump walked into Putin's web". The Guardian. Retrieved 15 November 2017. 
  25. ^ Luke Harding (2017). Collusion: Secret Meetings, Dirty Money, and How Russia Helped Donald Trump Win. Vintage. ISBN 978-0525562511. 
  26. ^ Deadline, The. (20 May 2013) DreamWorks' 'Fifth Estate' Release Date Shifts Month; 'Delivery Man' Moved To Nov. Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved on 12 August 2013.
  27. ^ Mafia State by Luke Harding – review, The Guardian
  28. ^ guardianshorts, Libya: Murder in Benghazi and the Fall of Gaddafi Archived 15 July 2013 at the Wayback Machine.

External links[edit]