The Guardian‘s Moscow correspondent, Luke Harding, has been refused re-entry to Russia.
The move – which Harding feels is down to unflattering WikiLeaks’ revelations on Vladmir Putin’s government – is thought to be the first removal of a British staff journalist from the country since the end of the cold war, according to the Guardian.
Harding had been back at the paper’s London offices for two months but was told on arrival back at Moscow: “For you, Russia is closed.”
He was detained for 45 minutes before being placed on a return flight to London, where his passport was handed back. His visa has been annulled.
“The Russians have been unhappy with my reporting for a while,” said Harding. “But it seems WikiLeaks may have been the final straw.”
The WikiLeaks cables in question alleged that US diplomats had suggested that Russia had become a “virtual mafia state”.
The Foreign Office said it had called Moscow for an explanation but was awaiting a reply.