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Craig Murray Documents Under Threat from HMG

8 July 2006

This provides a mirror of documents which the British government is attempting to suppress:


The following is from Craig Murray:

I am sorry to trouble you, but believe that we now face a threat 
both to the Web and to Freedom of Information in the UK which 
must be challenged.  The British government is arguing that 
government documents, even if released under the Freedom of 
InformAtion Act or Data Protection Act, cannot be published, on 
the web or elsewhere, as they remain Crown Copyright.  They 
have required me to remove documents from my website on that 
basis, under threat of legal action - see the attached letter 
from the Treasury solicitors.

If you think about it for a moment, the government could thus
cancel out almost the whole purpose of the Freedom of 
Information Act; information released would be just for the 
private use of an individual.  Newspapers - or bloggers - 
could not publish it in any detail.

If accepted, this extraordinary use of copyright could keep 
literally everything - everything - produced by government 
a secret.

The documents in question are the supporting evidence for my 
book, Murder in Samarkand, which has just been released.  The 
government continues to claim my story is untrue.  There is one 
important advance in all this.  Up until now the government 
refused to acknowledge the documents were authentic.  Now 
Buttrill's letter specifically acknowledges all of the 
documents and claims copyright over them.

Some of these documents have already been published widely 
on the web (not least due to the efforts of many of you on 
this list), particularly the "Tashkent telegrams" on CIA and 
MI6 use of intelligence obtained under torture in the UK.  
Those are now admitted as authentic. 
Some are new to the web.  Perhaps the most important is the 
chart of the changes the British Government insisted be made 
to the book.  These are extremey revealing for what they 
admit to be true - for example, only minor changes are 
requested in the key meeting between senior officials on the 
legality of using intelligence from torture, at which it was 
confirmed that this is US and UK policy.

Perhaps still more revealing is the insistence on removal of 
the assertion that "Colin Powell knowingly lied" when he 
claimed that bombs in Tashkent were the work of al-Qaida.  
The British government insisted on removal not because it was 
untrue - as detailed in the book, they know full well it is 
true - but because it would "Damage UK-US relations". The 
changes requested were made in the book, because my publisher 
would not publish without.  That is why the truth needs to be 
out there on the web.

It is on the face of it very strange that the British 
Government is going after me over the Copyright Act and not 
the Official Secrets Act. The answer is simple - under the 
Copyright Act there is no jury.  A jury would never convict 
for campaigning against torture, and be most unlikely to 
accept that documents released cannot be published.  The 
table of changes requested by the government is not even a 
classified document in the first place.  But a single judge 
may be more malleable - John Reid had put a huge effort lately 
into browbeating judges over anything connected to the 
so-called War on Terror.  As the government know very well I 
have no money to pay a small, or even large fine, they can 
get the book and documents banned and me in jail without 
having to convince any jury of pesky citizens.

How to fight back?

Well, we must not let the documents disappear from the web.  
There is as yet no legal ruling on these matters, Mr 
Buttrill's claims are only highly controversial legal 
contentions.  So if you post the documents pending a court 
ruling, there is a danger you may be contravening the - civil, 
not criminal - law, but then again you may not.  You would 
quite likely receive a threatening letter from Mr Buttrill.  
Now you have this email from me, NSA and GCHQ are almost 
certainly tracking you, (they can, incidentally, reciprocally 
spy in the other country for each other and then swap the info, 
because neither needs a warrant to spy abroad), but then they 
probably were already.

The publisher had firm and very expensive legal advice that it 
was not contravening any civil or criminal law to publish in 
the book links to web pages containing the documents.  So you 
are almost certainly on safe legal ground in publishing this 
link to the Dahr Jamail site if you do not wish to mirror the 
docs yourself.

[See links to Cryptome mirrors below.]

Feel free to publish this email and the letter from Mr 

It might also be helpful if we urged people to contact him, 
by phone, email or letter, and ask him complex questions 
about the fascinating and difficult legal and ethical questions 
thrown up by the government's position.  As a government 
servant he's obliged to reply.

Finally, the government made plain to parliament that it would 
act against the book itself if it was published.  As it only 
came out on Friday, no injunction yet but it could happen 
any time. So if you are interested in getting it, buy now and 
beat the injunctions!  It is available from most online 
booksellers, though bookshops seem very reluctant to stock it.

Many Thanks,

Craig Murray


Murder In Samarkand - Documents:

In publishing "Murder in Samarkand" I had wanted to publish the supporting documentation in the book to cooroborate 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.

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 milliom 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.

So we have made Murder in Samarkand an interactive book - the documents are published here, and referenced by URL in the text. 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", rahter than building good relationships with Karimov, our ally in the War on Terror.

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!


[Links to Cryptome mirrors.]

Document 1 - FCO Comment
Document 2 - IMF Telegram
Document 3 - Declaration
Document 4 - Speech
Document 5 - Hill Negotiation
Document 6 - Michael Wood memo of 13 March
Document 7 - Telegram of 18 March 2003 headed US Foreign Policy
Document 8 - Letter from Simon Butt dated 16 April 2003
Document 9 - Exchange of emails with Linda Duffield
Document 10 - Colin Reynolds' report of 26 June 2003
Document 11 - Minute of my meeting with Howard Drake
Document 12 - Letter from British Businessmen in Tashkent
Document 13 - Email to Kate Smith
Document 14 - Minute of 26 September 2003
Document 15 - Telegram




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July 9, 2006 in Current Affairs | Permalink


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