Hounded out for revealing torture in the ‘war on terror’


By a Newsnet Scotland Reporter

A former top diplomat has told the inside story of how he was hounded out of the British Foreign Office after raising concerns of torture linked to the US led and UK supported “war on terror”.

Craig Murray, the UK’s former ambassador to Uzbekistan, reported to London that Uzbeki secret police were torturing Al Quaeda suspects in 2002 and 2003 at the chest of the American Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), with the knowledge of its British equivalent, MI6.

In an exclusive interview with Bateman Broadcasting’s Derek Bateman, Mr Murray believes that his complaint was communicated directly to the then Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, but ignored.

Mr Straw has denied the allegations, despite Mr Murray’s insistence that he had indeed known about the issue.

The ex Ambassador’s suspicions were raised when he heard rumours, and then clear allegations of torture and murder by the Uzbeks. When a torture victims mother obtained photographs of her sons corpse, it was sent from the Embassy in Tashkent to London, and then to Glasgow University for forensic examination.

The resulting report confirmed that the victim had had his fingernails removed, that his body had been mutilated and that he had been immersed in boiling liquid.

Mr Murray sent three reports from Tashkent to London during 2003, and beam frustrated at a lack of action. Later that year, he returned from holiday to a confrontation with officials. At first he was encouraged to move to a more pleasant posting in Copenhagen, but as the meeting continued he was threatened with an investigation into 18 allegations against him, all of them trumped up in his view.

Eventually he was cleared of the allegations. But he had resigned from the FCO, and continues to campaign for an end to torture and fundamental changes to foreign policy. He argues that the use of evidence extracted using torture was not acceptable under previous administrations, until New Labour’s arrival in power and Tony Blair’s decision to back the Bush Administration, post 9/11.

His experience in Uzbekistan, and subsequent public campaigning, returned to prominence with last week’s publication of a Senate report into CIA involvement in toirture of suspects, re-opening the debate about rendition and the involvement of Western security agencies, as well as the war in Afghanistan and the invasion of Iraq two years later.

“It was very awful. Finding out we were involved in torturing people was awful too. I suppose originally I had been a ‘Brit Nat’. I believed our propoaganda, I believed we were the good guys. I represented the UK for a living, it was my whole career,” recalls Murray..

“My entire world view had been shattered. The system turned on me and I was attacked.

Mr Murray’s case gained widespread publicity, prior to his final resignation from the diplomatic service in 2005. Since then he says he has been “ignored and excluded by the media because my story doesn’t fit with the official narrative”.

Murray, back living in Scotland where he was a student, supported the Yes campaign for Scottish independence.