[Marxism] Britain used information extracted through torture

Louis Proyect 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

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 London.

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 
Islamic terrorism."

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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