Int’l of Torture: The Documents the Crown Would Like to Censor

The United Kingdom Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has forbidden Craig Murray to publish documents he obtained under the Freedom of Information Act and Freedom of Data Act, which clearly show the responsibility of the Crown in the International of torture. Having not dared resorting to military censorship, the Blair government has claimed copyright on the official documents in order to block their publication. This manoeuver is of course a breach of the international commitments of the United Kingdom of Great-Brittain and Northern Ireland. Indeed, Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights and jurisprudence of the Strasbourg Court of Justice state that freedom of speech prevails on any other consideration and cannot be restrained by State imperatives. By bringing its support to Ambassador Murray, the Voltaire Network has decided to bypass censorship of Her Majesty and publish the documents. It calls for all other information websites to do the same.In publishing “Murder in Samarkand” I had wanted to publish the supporting documentation in the book to coroborate my story, especially as the FCO is claiming that the story is essentially untrue. In that sense, perhaps the most interesting link in the documents below is the very first document, which is a table of detailed amendments the FCO insisted be made to the text. This is fascinating if you consider just how much it confirms was true, particularly in the conversations it refers to between officials.

International of Torture: The Documents the Crown Would Like to Censor

Video: Craig Murray’s speech at Axis for Peace

Many of the other documents I managed to have released under the Freedom of Information Act or Data Protection Act. I was astonished when the FCO announced that they would still take legal action against me if I published them. They argue that – and this astonished me – even if a document is released under the DPA or FoIA, it is still copyright of the Crown and so cannot be published. I was even more amazed when the lawyers of the publisher said that this was probably true, and certainly could not be fought without potentially a million pound legal case.

It appears that, among so many attacks on civil liberties in recent years, the Blair government has managed to administratively negate its own Freedom of Information Act. Robin Cook must be spinning in his grave.

Net posting is not breaching copyright because there is no charge to access the documents. This site may, of course, be subject to technical attack, so I would be grateful if those who can mirror these documents on their own sites, do so.

These are contemporary documents from my time as Ambassador in Uzbekistan. They do I believe include the real smoking gun on Britain’s, and the CIA’s, use of intelligence obtained by torture abroad. They also show the FCO getting increasingly angry with me over my being “over-focussed on human rights”, rather than building good relationships with Karimov, our ally in the War on Terror.

Thierry Meyssan welcomes Craig Murray

Axis for Peace conference, November 17th, 2005 in Brussels.

They do not give a smoking gun that proves that the allegations brought against me, of which I was eventually cleared, were trumped-up and motivated by a desire to get rid of me for policy reasons. Being internal FCO documents, they are written to maintain the facade of a proper disciplinary investigation. You need to be prepared to read between the lines – and read the book!


Attached documents


01. Murder In Samarkand – FCO Comment
This document details feedback from the FCO requesting changes to the book in its draft form.
(PDF – 4.4 Mb)


02. Murder In Samarkand – IMF Telegram
This is the original draft of the telegram which I sent on the IMF and economic policy. The computer in my office could not link to our communications equipment, so after I drafted it on my word processor, Jackie or Karen had to type it again into comms. While they were doing this, inspiration struck and I went down and added to the end of the telegram by hand.
(PDF – 890.4 kb)


03. Murder In Samarkand – Declaration
I had been in Uzbekistan exactly four weeks when I became convinced that Western policy in Central Asia was completely ill-conceived. This telegram was my first major declaration of my view to London, where it came as a nasty shock.
(PDF – 53.4 kb)


04. Murder In Samarkand – Speech
The Head of Eastern Department, Simon Butt, and the Head of the Diplomatic Service, Sir Michael Jay KCMG, were horrified by my questioning of US foreign policy and by my proposal to make a strong speech on human rights in Uzbekistan. This was not Sir Michael Jay’s view of diplomacy at all. In fact it is worth noting that, if you replace the word “Diplomacy” with “Duplicity” in Michael Jay’s email, it still makes perfect sense.
(PDF – 530 kb)


05. Murder In Samarkand – Hill Negotiation
My proposal to make a strong speech on Uzbek Human Rights at Freedom House was strongly opposed by Sir Michael Jay and Simon Butt. Charles Hill of Eastern Department had the job of negotiating the text with me and, after this pretty sharp correspondence, I largely got the speech I wanted.
(PDF – 1 Mb)


06. Murder In Samarkand – Michael Wood memo of 13 March

After my protests at our obtaining intelligence under torture, I was astonished to be called back to London for a meeting on 8 March 2003 at which I was told that torture intelligence was legal, and that Jack Straw and Sir Richard Dearlove, Head of MI6, had decided that in the “War on Terror” we should, as a matter of policy, obtain intelligence got by torture by foreign intelligence services.

At the meeting it was agreed that Sir Michael Wood, the Foreign Office’s chief legal adviser, would put in writing his view that we were committing no offence by obtaining torture intelligence. This minute is that legal assurance.

(PDF – 78.6 kb)


07. Murder In Samarkand – Telegram of 18 March 2003 headed US Foreign Policy

I was horrified when the massive assault on Iraq started. I knew both that Iraq did not really possess WMDs, and that our weapons were much less precise than the news propaganda claimed; tens of thousands of civilians were dying.

Given that we were supporting the dictator Karimov, I thought it was pretty rich to be claiming to attack Hussein because he was a dictator. I was then outraged to see on BBC World TV a speech by George Bush saying we were going to war in Iraq to dimantle Hussein’s torture apparatus. I had just been informed that torture material was legitimate in the War on Terror.

I therefore sent the following telegram. This was the only protest from any British Ambassador at our entering on an illegal war, abandoning the UN Security Council, and following blindly George Bush’s violent and acquisitive foreign policy.

(PDF – 29.1 kb)


08. Murder In Samarkand – letter from Simon Butt dated 16 April 2003

Following my telegram on the start of the Iraq war, Simon Butt, Head of Eastern Department, was sent out from London to tell me I was now considered “Unpatriotic”. On return he met with Sir Michael Jay (PUS), to discuss how to deal with me. His letter records this conversation.

Apart from the underlying political context, there are two astonishing things about this letter. The first is the libel by a government department of the anti-war Labout MP Andrew Mackinlay, who to the best of my knowledge had never been in a strip club, in Poland or anywhere else.

The second is that he notes that after dinner I went out with a young lady to a jazz club (which I did – it was my secretary Kristina, and we just went for a quick drink). But while he blows that up with much innuendo, he fails to note something much more significant.

While we were having dinner, the grandson of our host, Professor Mirsaidov, a distinguished dissident, had been abducted from outside the house by Uzbek security services. He had been tortured to death and his body dumped back on the family doorstep at 4am. It had been intended as a warning to dissidents and the British Embassy not to meet each other.

Simon Butt was fully aware of these facts when he wrote this letter, but plainly the murder of our host’s grandson – which was inconvenient for our important relationship in the War on Terror with Karimov – was much less worth mentioning than my going for a drink to a jazz bar.

(PDF – 495.6 kb)


09. Murder In Samarkand – Exchange of emails with Linda Duffield
With the Iraq war in full swing, I found myself marked down as not sound on the War and Terror and simply “sent to Coventry” by my London management, as I complained in this exchange of emails with Linda Duffield. This proved to be the calm before the storm.
(PDF – 2.2 Mb)


10. Murder In Samarkand – Colin Reynolds’ report of 26 June 2003

We lost our political officer when he cracked up under the pressure and started attacking people in the street. His partner, my deputy, also left. That was all of my British political and economic resource gone.

Personnel Department sent out an officer, Colin Reynolds, ostensibly on a pastoral visit following these events. In fact he had been primed by the Foregin Office to look for excuses to remove me, and briefed on rumours originated by the US Embassy that I was an alcoholic and jkept a “Love-nest” in Tashkent – both completely untrue.

In fact Reynolds’ report was very fair. His comments that some procedures were not followed correctly were accurate – he does not note my response, that the tiny staff of our Embassy in Tashkent was not equipped to carry out the full FCO bureaucratic requirements.

(PDF – 1 Mb)


11. Murder In Samarkand – Minute of my meeting with Howard Drake

I was delighted to get away on holiday to Canada with my family after an exhausting and difficult year. The personnel officer, Colin Reynolds having failed to bring back the answer they wanted, while I was on leave the FCO sent a political officer, Dominic Schroeder, to Tashkent. The excuse was a “Crisis” they had themselves produced by suspending my five most senior members of office staff.

Schroeder came back and dutifully reported he had found allegations of mismanagement, alcoholism, financial corruption and offering sex in exchange from visas.

I was summoned back immediately from holiday and arrived back to meet Howard Drake of Personnel Department. I went straight from the airport to his office after a 16 hour overnight flight from Vancouver via Chicago, having not slept for 60 hours. As I walked in the door I had no idea I was about to face a huge raft of false allegations and be asked to resign.

In the circumstances I am amazed by how well I managed to defend myself at this meeting! You should bear in mind that this is Howard Drake’s record of this meeting; it therefore puts the best possible gloss on what the FCO was doing.

(PDF – 1.3 Mb)


12. Murder In Samarkand – Letter from British Businessmen in Tashkent
The British community in Tashkent were astonished to find their Ambassador was under attack.
(PDF – 1.2 Mb)


13. Murder In Samarkand – Email to Kate Smith

It became plain to me that I had no hope of a fair investigation of the allegations against me. In particular I would not be allowed to call defence witnesses; indeed I was not allowed to tell anyone of the existence of the allegations. I was also banned from entering my own Embassy, and confined to my house in Tashkent.

It became too much for me, and I sent this email back from Tashkent to my union representative, Kate Smith, just before leaving to go into psychiatric care for depression. I am surprised by how articulate and clear-minded my email was.

(PDF – 495.1 kb)


14. Murder In Samarkand – Minute of 26 September 2003

I received many documents through an application under the Data Protection Act. These have been edited by the Foreign Office, with areas blacked out in the “interests of national security”.

This is an interesting example. This minute of 26 September 2003 is addressed to Sir Michael Jay (PS/PUS) and Jack Straw (PS). By convention minutes are addressed to the Private Secretary (PS) not the Secretary of State direct.

Among the things deleted for reasons of national security is who the minute was copied to. The copy addressees would be at the top right hand corner under the date. A friend of mine in Jack Straw’s office (remember I worked in the FCO for 21 years) tells me that the copy addressees on this and scores of other documents about me going through Jack Straw’s offce, included 10 Downing Street, MI6 and the MOD. That is why they have been deleted. As detailed in the book, the instruction to get rid of me had come to the FCO from No 10 on the instigation of the Americans.

It is fascinating to consider what else the FCO felt it necessary to blank out in this minute.

(PDF – 326.3 kb)


15. Murder In Samarkand – Telegram

I continued to refuse to resign and in the end was found not guilty of all the allegations against me, but given a formal warning for not having kept the allegations secret. Following a parliamentary and media campaign in my favour, I returned as Ambassador to Tashkent.

In July 2004, following the Abu Ghraib revelations, I yet again went back to argue with London that we should not be receiving intelligence from the Uzbek torture chambers. We were, I said, “Selling our souls for dross”. This telegram was leaked to the Financial Times, leading the FCO to tell the Uzbek government (before they told me) that I had been withdrawn as British Ambassador to Tashkent.

(PDF – 33.1 kb)