Tag Archives: Luke Harding

Guardian: How Luke Harding became the reporter Russia hated

The Guardian’s former Moscow correspondent Luke Harding has a lively piece up on his time as the city’s harassed-western-journalist-in-chief.

Ahead of the publication of a book by Harding on his quarrels with Russia’s security forces, he describes being intimidated and having his flat regularly broken into, and his deportation and Russia’s u-turn in letting him back in.

There could be no doubt: someone had broken into my flat. Three months after arriving in Russia as the Guardian’s new Moscow bureau chief, I returned home late from a dinner party. Everything appeared normal. Children’s clothes lying in the corridor, books piled horizontally in the living room, the comforting debris of family life. And then I saw it. The window of my son’s bedroom was wide open…

Read the full article on Guardian.co.uk at this link.

Luke Harding: ‘We’re sort of used to the gunfire, but this was clearly directed towards us’

Around 35 journalists were relieved yesterday to have been allowed to leave the Rixos Hotel in central Tripoli, where they had been trapped for five days amid heavy fighting between rebels and Gaddafi loyalists.

Many of them moved from the Rixos to the Corinthia Hotel, further away from the fighting around Gaddafi’s Bab al-Aziziya compound. But a report this afternoon from Guardian correspondent Luke Harding suggests that, despite Gaddafi having been ousted, they are still in some danger from loyalists. Talking to his colleague Mathew Weaver over Skype from the Corinthia, Harding said the hotel was “sprayed” with heavy ammunition fire for five to 10 minutes.

I was just downstairs in the lobby having lunch … and I went up to the second floor and there was a surge of journalists in from the terrace and there was gunfire. This was where we’d all been setting up our satellite dishes and people had been doing live braodcasts. There’s been a fantastic amount of gunfire over the last few days so we’re sort of used to it but this was clearly directed towards us which was why everyone came charging in.

It’s hard to know who, but it seems there were loyalists in the high rise blocks to our left that opened fire on the hotel.

There isn’t much security here, there are a couple of guards in the hotel who panicked and fired inside, which sent everyone scarpering. I just took the lift up to the 13th floor and locked myself in the room. The firing went on for about five to 10 minutes.

I just went to see my neighbour Kim Sengupta from the Independent. He is two [floors] down from me, and he has four bullet holes in the wall and one on the ceiling. This is not Kalashnikov fire – this is a very well-built, modern hotel – this is clearly something much heavier and someone has just sprayed the hotel with it. As far as I know, nobody has been hurt.

This is indicative of just how insecure Tripoli is.

See more on the Guardian’s Middle East liveblog at this link.

Follow Luke Harding on Twitter: @lukeharding1968

OWNI.eu publishes WikiLeaks ebook

The rush to get books in the shops in the wake of the WikiLeaks phenomenon was quite predictable. It’s a story with all the Hollywood mores, but strangely real. The films are soon to follow.

So far we’ve had, most notably, David Leigh’s and Luke Harding’s “WikiLeaks: Inside Julian Assange’s War on Secrecy” and Daniel Domscheit Berg’s “Inside WikiLeaks”.

Now Paris-based OWNI.eu, which helped build apps for WikiLeaks to allow people to navigate the Iraq war logs and US embassy cables, is publishing Olivier Tesquet’s “WikiLeaks: A True Account” through its own publisher OWNI Books. The organisation boasts an “exceptional vantage point” on the whistleblowing group, and claims that Tesquet’s “thorough investigation” will shed light in the relationship between the WikiLeaks and OWNI.

OWNI Books publishes ebooks only, and this latest one will be the first published in three languages: French, English and Arabic.

Hot on the heels of the OWNI book – and the other behind-the-scenes accounts – will be a more academic take on the affair from Polis director Charlie Beckett and former WikiLeaks journalist James Ball.

The book was announced by Beckett at the Polis Value of Journalism conference on Friday and is expected within the next few months.

Moscow Times: Harding’s chilling effect

Following the brouhaha over Guardian Moscow correspondent Luke Harding’s deportation from Russia (and subsequent overtures of friendship from the country and explanations that it was all a big mistake), the Moscow Times takes a sharp look at some of the likely reasons behind Russia’s actions. (Other than the explanation from a spokesman for Russia’s foreign ministry that “This is a technical matter and I do not think that it deserves so much commotion”).

The piece also looks at some of the other cases of foreign journalists being refused entry to the country, more than 40 between 2000 and 2007 according to the Moscow-based Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations.

When Harding was denied entry after trying to pass through passport control with a valid visa, an airport security official told him, “For you, Russia is closed.”

Very well put. Russia truly is a closed society — and not only for Harding.

Full story on the Moscow Times at this link.

Politkovskaya trial: ongoing, open and public

After ruling that press and public would be banned from the courtroom for the Anna Politkovskaya murder trial, the Moscow military court has now said that the trial will be open after all, RSF reports. You can also follow Luke Harding at the Guardian. ‘We may actually see the judge firing himself,’ he reports in this this short audio clip.