IFJ Condemns Return to State Censorship after Journalist's Expulsion in Russia

The international Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today accused Russia of

stepping back into the shadows of censorship and political intolerance after The Guardian's Moscow correspondent  Luke Harding was expelled from the country,

apparently in retaliation for writing a story linked to material provided by

the whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks.

Harding was refused entry at Moscow airport when he returned to the city

yesterday. Immigration officials put him on the next flight back to London and

told him he was barred.

The Guardian says the action comes after the newspaper published reports from

diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks, including an article from Harding on

allegations that Russia under the rule of Vladimir Putin had become a "virtual

police state."

"This expulsion is a chilling reminder of how easy it is for the current

Russian leadership to slip back into the shadows of censorship of years past,"

said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary. "The action will worry campaigners for

press rights inside Russia and across the globe."

The IFJ has called upon its affiliate in Russia, the Russian Union of

Journalists, to take up Harding's case with the Russian authorities. According

to the Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations, which is based in the

offices of the Russian Union, Russia has denied entry to or deported more than

40 members of the press.

The IFJ says that this latest incident indicates a hardening of official

attitudes to the press at the highest levels.

"Inside Russia journalists struggle to be free, often having to carry

out their work at great personal risk," said White. "This expulsion shows that

political intolerance of independent journalism is growing. It should be

condemned by all those campaigning for democratic rights in the country and


For more information,

please contact IFJ on + 32 2 235 22 07

The IFJ represents more than

600.000 members in 125 countries