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Guardian reporter allowed to return to Russia

Allowed to return: Guardian correspondent Luke Harding is seen in this photograph taken on August 17, 2005 and released in London on February 8, 2011.

Luke Harding, correspondent of the British daily The Guardian who was deported from Russia on February 5, returned to his job in Moscow on February 12 after being issued a new visa by the government.

But the paper said Monday its expiry date was not indicated and that he could be forced to leave the country again on May 31, the date his old visa expires, according to Paris-based press freedom group Reporters sans Frontières (RSF).

The Russian authorities said he had been expelled because of bureaucratic violations. It was the first time a Western journalist had been deported since 1989 and provoked international reaction.

Denying a Moscow-based correspondent reentry after a trip abroad is a rarely-used procedure but there are precedents. Natalia Morar, a Moldovan journalist who worked in Moscow for the New Times (Novoye Vremya) magazine, suffered this fate in December 2007. Angus Roxburgh of the Sunday Times was the victim of a quid-pro-quo expulsion after the British government headed by Margaret Thatcher expelled 11 suspected Soviet spies in 1989.

Russia is ranked 140th out of 178 countries in the 2010 RSF press freedom index. Violence against journalists, impunity for those who physically attack or murder journalists and the glaring lack of media diversity, especially in the broadcast media, pose the main threats to media freedom.

Date posted: February 15, 2011 Last modified: May 23, 2018 Total views: 126