[Marxism] Britain used information extracted through torture
lnp3 at panix.com
Sat Dec 31 14:23:36 MST 2005
NY Times, December 31, 2005
Diplomat Says Britain Used Data Gotten by Torture
By ALAN COWELL
LONDON, Dec. 30 - Craig Murray, former British ambassador to Uzbekistan,
has published documents on the Internet that he says prove that the British
knowingly received information obtained through torture.
Mr. Murray, who was forced to quit the Foreign Office last year after
publicly condemning the Uzbek authorities, criticized the British and
American governments in reports from Uzbekistan that he posted on the site,
On the site is a diplomatic cable Mr. Murray says he wrote, dated July
2004. It states that Britain received "intelligence obtained under torture
from the Uzbek intelligence services, via the U.S."
"We should stop," the document goes on to say. "It is bad information
anyway. Tortured dupes are forced to sign up to confessions showing what
the Uzbek government wants the U.S. and UK to believe, that they and we are
fighting the same war against terror."
Mr. Murray also said in one document that at a meeting in London on March
8, 2003, "I was told specifically that it was perfectly legal for us to
obtain and to use intelligence from the Uzbek torture chambers."
He said that at the meeting, a British government legal adviser, Michael
Wood, "gave his legal opinion that it was not illegal to obtain and to use
intelligence acquired by torture."
"He said the only legal limitation on its use was that it could not be used
in legal proceedings, under Article 15 of the U.N. Convention on Torture,"
Mr. Murray said.
In a telephone interview on Friday, Mr. Murray said he believed that the
legal opinion meant that the information could not be used as evidence in
court but could be used for intelligence purposes.
The disclosures, which repeat some earlier claims by Mr. Murray, play into
a fierce debate in the United States and Europe over the transfer of terror
suspects to countries that practice torture. Earlier this week, Britain and
Greece denied allegations in Greece that their intelligence agents had
interrogated 28 Pakistani suspects using torture after the July 7 bombings
In a landmark ruling earlier this month, Britain's Law Lords, sitting as
the country's highest court, said evidence obtained by torture, no matter
by whom, was inadmissible in British courts.
A spokesman for the Foreign Office, who spoke in return for anonymity under
department rules, declined to comment directly on Mr. Murray's claims.
"There is nothing new here," he said.
He also declined to comment on British news reports that the Foreign Office
had blocked publication of a nonfiction book by Mr. Murray, "Murder in
Samarkand," until he edited out sensitive material.
In the telephone interview, Mr. Murray, who was ambassador from 2002 to
2004, said that the material on the Web site was authentic and that he was
the source. He said it included the documents that the Foreign Office had
wanted him to excise from his book.
The Foreign Office spokesman said Britain condemned the use of torture and
did not practice it. But the spokesman said British intelligence agents
routinely assessed the likely source of information they received and "took
into account" the reliability of information that might have been extracted
under torture from suspects in detention.
Mr. Murray assailed the human rights record of Uzbekistan at a time when,
he said, the United States was playing down reports of human rights abuses
In a confidential letter he sent to the Foreign Office on Sept. 16, 2002, a
summary said: "U.S. plays down human rights situation in Uzbekistan. A
dangerous policy: increasing repression combined with poverty will promote
Mr. Murray said American policy toward President Islam A. Karimov was
dictated by the availability of strategic air bases. The State Department
gave Uzbekistan a favorable human rights assessment to free up hundreds of
millions of dollars in aid, Mr. Murray said.
A second letter, dated March 18, 2003, said in its summary: "As seen from
Tashkent, U.S. policy is not much focused on democracy or freedom. It is
about oil, gas and hegemony. In Uzbekistan the U.S. pursues those ends
through supporting a ruthless dictatorship."
According to Mr. Murray, the letter said: "Last year the U.S. gave half a
billion dollars in aid to Uzbekistan, about a quarter of it military aid.
Bush and Powell repeatedly hail Karimov as a friend and ally. Yet this
regime has at least seven thousand prisoners of conscience; it is a
one-party state without freedom of speech, without freedom of media,
without freedom of movement, without freedom of assembly, without freedom
of religion. It practices, systematically, the most hideous tortures on
thousands. Most of the population live in conditions precisely analogous
with medieval serfdom."
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