Luke Harding

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Luke Daniel Harding (born 1968) is a British journalist working as a foreign correspondent for The Guardian. He was the correspondent of The Guardian in Russia 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] while Russia's foreign ministry said that an extended certificate of foreign correspondence was not obtained in time.[3] 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]

Luke Harding at Senate House in 2015

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 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.

He has lived in and reported from Delhi, Berlin and Moscow and has covered wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya.[4]

Russian expulsion[edit]

In February 2011 Harding was refused re-entry into Russia. He became 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."[5] 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."[6]

The expulsion preceded a visit to Britain by Sergei Lavrov, Russia's foreign minister, which led to suggestions from Labour MP Chris Bryant that the British government might rescind Lavrov's invitation.[7] 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.[8]

Harding is currently based in Hertfordshire.[9]

Julian Assange[edit]

In 2011, a book written by Harding and David Leigh was published by Vintage Books in the US and Guardian Faber in the UK.[10] In WikiLeaks: Inside Julian Assange's War on Secrecy, the authors describe Julian Assange as a "damaged personality" and a "callous" individual. Also revealed in the book was a secret password Assange had given The Guardian in confidence, the paper responded that they had been told the password was temporary and would be deleted shortly.[11] The book was made into a Hollywood film, The Fifth Estate (2013).

Edward Snowden[edit]

Main article: The Snowden Files

Harding's book on Edward Snowden, The Snowden Files (2014), received positive reviews from the The Guardian[12] and the London Review of Books,[13] and a mixed review from The Daily Telegraph's David Blair.[14] Julian Assange wrote in Newsweek[15] that Harding was milking the story with a book based on second-hand information, and generally overstated The Guardian′s importance in the leak.


  • Libya: Murder in Benghazi and the Fall of Gaddafi (20 October 2012), co-written with Martin Chulov. Short e-book, account of the moment of Gaddafi's capture and the current state of Libya.[18]
  • The Snowden Files: The Inside Story of the World's Most Wanted Man, Vintage Books (NY, 7 February 2014), ISBN 978-0804173520; Guardian Faber Publishing (UK, 6 February 2014), ISBN 978-1783350353. Harding tells Edward Snowden's story from the day he left his girlfriend in Honolulu carrying a hard drive full of secrets, to the weeks of his secret-spilling in Hong Kong, to his battle for asylum and his exile in Moscow.
  • A Very Expensive Poison: the Definitive Story of the Murder of Litvinenko is published in March 2016 by Guardian Faber in the UK. ISBN 978-1783350933.


^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. ^ Transcript of the Russian Foreign Minister S.Lavrov’s interview with the BBC, Moscow, February 9, 2011.
  4. ^ Luke Harding's contributor page,
  5. ^ Guardian's Moscow correspondent expelled from Russia, The Guardian
  6. ^ Russia expels U.K. reporter Luke Harding, who covered corruption, The Washington Post
  7. ^ Call to halt Russian foreign minister's visit after Guardian journalist expelled, The Guardian
  8. ^ Luke Harding (23 September 2011). "Enemy of the state". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 25 September 2011. 
  9. ^ "Luke Harding". London: The Guardian. 3 October 2007. Retrieved 6 June 2012. 
  10. ^ "Review: Wikileaks: Inside Julian Assange's War On Secrecy by David Leigh and Luke Harding", The Independent (Eire), 18 November 2011
  11. ^ Stöcker, Christian (1 September 2011). "Leak at WikiLeaks: A Dispatch Disaster in Six Acts". Der Spiegel. Archived from the original on 4 September 2011. Retrieved 4 September 2011. 
  12. ^ The Snowden Files by Luke Harding – review | Books | The Guardian
  13. ^ Daniel Soar reviews ‘The Snowden Files’ by Luke Harding · LRB 20 February 2014The London Review of Books
  14. ^ The Snowden Files by Luke Harding, review – Telegraph
  15. ^ Assange: How 'The Guardian' Milked Edward Snowden's Story | Opinion | Newsweek
  16. ^ Deadline, The. (20 May 2013) DreamWorks' 'Fifth Estate' Release Date Shifts Month; 'Delivery Man' Moved To Nov. Retrieved on 12 August 2013.
  17. ^ Mafia State by Luke Harding – review, The Guardian
  18. ^ guardianshorts, Libya: Murder in Benghazi and the Fall of Gaddafi

External links[edit]