EXCLUSIVE: Ex-British Ambassador to Uzbekistan Craig Murray on Why He Defied UK Foreign Office by Posting Classified Memos Blasting U.S., British Support of Torture by Uzbek Regime
Thursday, January 19th, 2006http://www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=06/01/19/1452237
We spend the hour with the former British ambassador to Uzbekistan, Craig Murray. The British government has stopped the publication of his book. In a Democracy Now exclusive, Murray tells why he defied the British Foreign Office by posting a series of classified memos on his website. Murray was fired as ambassador to Uzbekistan after he openly criticized the British and U.S. governments for supporting human rights abuses under the Uzbek regime. [includes rush transcript]
A new Human Rights Watch report examines the state of human rights around the world. On Wednesday the group released its 2006 annual report which accused the Bush administration of undermining human rights around the world by the way its waging the so-called war on terror.
The group also called on Congress to set up an independent panel and investigate U.S. human rights abuses. These are excerpts of what Kenneth Roth, the executive director of Human Rights Watch had to say.
- Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch.
- Scott McClellan, White House press secretary.
Three weeks ago the former British Ambassador to the country, Craig Murray, defied Britain's Official Secrets Act by posting a series of classified memos that he wrote from his days in Uzbekistan, which up until recently was a close U.S. ally.
Fearing that the British government would shut down his website, Murray encouraged other website owners to republish the material on their sites. Hundreds have since taken up the call.
In one classified memo from July 2004, Murray wrote, "We receive intelligence obtained under torture from the Uzbek intelligence services via the US. We should stop... This is morally, legally and practically wrong."
A summary of one of Murray's memos read: "U.S. plays down human rights situation in Uzbekistan. A dangerous policy: increasing repression combined with poverty will promote Islamic terrorism." In another secret memo Murray estimated the Uzbek government was holding up to 10,000 political and religious prisoners.
One revealing letter that Murray posts online is from now-indicted Enron CEO Kenneth Lay to then-Texas governor George W Bush in which Lay crosses out the words "Governor Bush" and writes "Dear George." In it, Lay writes he is "delighted" Bush is meeting with the Uzbek ambassador to the US and tells Bush of Enron's plans in Uzbekistan.
Perhaps the most damning memo is one that was not written by Murray but by a British legal advisor named Michael Wood. In the memo, Wood claims that using information extracted through torture is not technically a violation of the United Nations Convention Against Torture.
All of the memos date from between August 2002 and October 2004 - the period when Murray served as British ambassador to Uzbekistan. He was removed from the post in part because of his outspoken criticism of Uzbekistan's human rights record.
- Craig Murray, joins us today in his first interview in the United States since he posted the memos online.
- Link to classified documents
- Craig Murray is testifying at the International Commission of Inquiry on Crimes Against Humanity Committed by the Bush Administration.
- Link to letter from Enron CEO Kenneth Lay to George W. Bush See below:
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