Monthly Archives: November 2005


U.S. Acknowledges Secret-Prison Concern

By ANNE GEARAN in Netscpae News

WASHINGTON (AP) – The Bush administration acknowledged Tuesday that reports of secret U.S.-run prisons overseas for terror suspects have raised an outcry among European allies and said the U.S. will account for its actions.

Without confirming that any CIA detention sites exist in Europe, a State Department spokesman said the U.S. has not violated either its own laws or international treaties.

“The United States in its actions does not break U.S. law,” said spokesman Sean McCormack. “All its actions comply with the Constitution and we abide by our international obligations.

“And all we can do is do our best to try to explain that to publics around the world – to our own public and to European publics or wherever the question may arise.”

For full article go here

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Judge rejects appeal of CIA arrest warrant

By AIDAN LEWIS in The News Sentinel

ROME – A judge has rejected an appeal by a former CIA station chief in Milan against an arrest warrant issued for his alleged role in the kidnapping of an Egyptian cleric, ruling that he was not protected by diplomatic immunity.

Italian judges have issued arrest warrants for 22 purported CIA agents, including the former station chief Robert Seldon Lady, accused of involvement in the kidnapping of cleric Osama Moustafa Hassan Nasr.

The judge on Monday rejected arguments by Seldon Lady’s lawyer, Daria Pesce, who claimed that he was protected under international treaty and Italian law, and that evidence of his involvement in any alleged abduction was weak.

Prosecutors claimed Nasr’s abduction was a serious violation of Italian sovereignty, and said it hindered Italian terrorism investigations. They reconstructed the alleged operation through cell phone traffic and other evidence, contending that Seldon Lady played a central role.

They have sought the extradition of the 22 suspects, and the Italian Justice Ministry is deciding whether to press the case with Washington.

Prosecutors claim that Nasr, believed to belong to an Islamic terror group, was abducted on a Milan street on Feb. 17, 2003, before being flown to Egypt, where he was reportedly tortured. He is believed to still be there.

Pesce contended that Seldon Lady’s work as an intelligence officer accredited at the U.S. Consulate protected him.

But Milan Judge Enrico Manzi ruled that Seldon Lady lost immunity when he left his post in August 2004, and that in any case consular officials could be arrested for grave crimes, according to court documents obtained Tuesday by The Associated Press.

He said that consular officials did enjoy protection, “but always within the limits of international law. Within these limits, naturally, is the principle of the sovereignty of the host state that cannot allow on its territory the use of force by a foreign state that outside every control of the political and judicial authorities.”

Neither Seldon Lady, who owns a home in Italy, nor any of the other suspects has been arrested, with all of them believed to be out of the country.

Pesce said Seldon Lady was in the United States. She said she planned to appeal Manzi’s decision.

Manzi noted in his ruling that there had been contacts between Seldon Lady’s phone and others used by suspects believed to have carried out the kidnapping.

The judge said evidence from a raid on Seldon Lady’s home, turning up among other evidence a photo of Nasr and records of Internet searches to plan the route of Nasr’s transfer from Milan, “have made the picture of evidence against him even more complete.”

Nasr’s alleged abduction was purportedly part of the CIA’s “extraordinary rendition” program, in which terrorism suspects are transferred to third countries without court approval, subjecting them to possible ill-treatment.

Premier Silvio Berlusconi’s government, a strong U.S. ally, has denied it had any prior knowledge of the alleged kidnapping. The United States has consistently declined comment on the case.

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Dick Cheney “could be subject to war crimes charges”

The US Vice-President Dick Cheney is facing fierce criticism over the Iraq war and prisnor abuse, even from within his own ranks. A BBC radio interview yesterday with Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson brings out the issue of how the debate on the Geneva Conventions was conducted within the US administration and how Cheney and Rumsfeld implemented the anything-goes approach.

Radio interview

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Straw plans to change rules on diplomats memoirs

Moves by the FCO to stall on the clearance of Craig Murray’s book may be explained by news today that Jack Straw is planning to change the rules governing diplomats’ memoirs. These will be intended to better protect secrets within government and prevent further embaressments. So if they stall long enough they may then be able to block most of this book and any others to follow…

By Nigel Morris in The Independent

Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary, has admitted that it was only through an internet advertisement that he discovered Sir Christopher Meyer was preparing to publish his memoirs.

Sir Christopher’s colourful account of his time as ambassador to Washington has embarrassed ministers, who have accused him of breaking the trust between civil servants and politicians. They have called for him to resign as chairman of the Press Complaints Commission.

Mr Straw reopened the war of words with Sir Christopher last night by announcing new controls on diplomats writing books and accusing him of keeping the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in the dark over his plans to publish DC Confidential.

The Foreign Secretary said: “There was no prior consultation by the author with the FCO before he entered into a commitment with a publisher and began writing. Following the appearance of a trailer for the book on the Amazon website in May, Sir Christopher was contacted by the FCO, reminded of the publication rules and repeatedly asked to submit his text to the department when completed.”

In a Commons written answer, Mr Straw said the book was only submitted to the Government for approval on 7 October, five weeks before its publication. Mr Straw said changes were not demanded in the text because of the “high threshold” required to demonstrate that Diplomatic Service regulations had been broken.

Mr Straw said the case suggested that the current rules, which depended on “norms of conduct and behaviour rather than laws”, were not effective. He said he planned to change the rules governing diplomats’ memoirs to ensure they better protected confidences within government.

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Blast from the past

Colonel Tim Spicer, OBE, is back in the news with some disturbing video of his employees tail gunning civillian cars in Baghdad. Spicer is involved in running Aegis – Specialist Risk Management, one of the many private companies making a killing in the chaos of post-invasion Iraq. But this business not new to the Colonel. A brief CV does indeed indicate a well connencted and travelled person:

1. “Executive Outcomes” (Angola, + allegedly DRC – Tim worked alongside Simon Mann, later jailed for the Equatorial Guinea Coup attempt which also implicated Mark Thatcher) – to 1997

2. “Sandline” (Sierra Leone, Papua New Guinea) – to 1999

3. “Crisis Risk Management” (?) – to 2000

4. “Strategic Consulting International” (allegedly counterinsurgency for the Nepalese government) – to 2001

5. “Trident Maritime” (counterinsurgency in Sri Lanka) – to 2002

6. “Aegis” (Iraq)

Craig Murray came across him before, back in the days of Sierra Leone as this article from 1998 expains.

Jack Straw must also be familiar with Colonel Spicer as he was instrumental in attempts to legalise private mecenary companies back in 2002.

“In developed countries, the private sector is becoming increasingly involved in military and security activity,” Mr Straw said in a foreword to the green paper. “It is British government policy… to outsource certain tasks that in earlier days would have been undertaken by the armed forces.” He added: “Today’s world is a far cry from the 1960s when private military activity usually meant mercenaries of the rather unsavoury kind involved in post-colonial or neo-colonial conflicts”.

At the time of the green paper Menzies Campbell, Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokesman said “This is an area where we need transparency, control and parliamentary scrutiny”.

Indeed!

For a full narative of events go here

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Questions in Parliament on exemptions and violations of Uzbek travel ban

From Hansards on the 24th November.

Mr. Hands: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the exemption of Islam Karimov and his family from the list of Uzbek officials banned from travelling to the European Union. [30702]

Mr. Douglas Alexander: We have not ruled out adding further names to the list of those subject to the EU’s visa ban. When adopting the measures on 3 October, the EU recognised the need to maintain contacts with Uzbekistan. Inclusion of the President on

the list would reduce prospects of continued dialogue. The measures introduced by the EU will be reviewed in the light of developments in Uzbekistan.

Mr. Hands: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the effectiveness of the EU travel ban on Uzbek officials; and what assessment he has made of the implications for the ban of Uzbek Interior Minister Almatov’s presence in Germany. [30869]

Mr. Douglas Alexander: The measures announced by the General Affairs and External Relations Council on 3 October in relation to Uzbekistan came into force on 14 November. They clearly demonstrate the profound concern of the European Union (EU) about the situation in Uzbekistan and the EU’s strong condemnation of the refusal of the Uzbek authorities to allow an independent international inquiry into the events in Andizhan in May.

The EU travel ban stands. Almatov’s visa was issued before the travel ban came into effect. The travel ban allows for exemptions in cases of urgent humanitarian need. The German authorities checked that the medical case for the visa was urgent before deciding to issue.

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Why Torture Doesn’t Work

By Brigader General David R. Irvine writing in AlterNet

Remarkably, of the nation’s major newspapers, only the Wall Street Journal has editorialized in support of torture as a useful tool of American intelligence policy. Regrettably, that position does a huge disservice to the nation and its soldiers. There are really only three issues in this debate, and the Journal carefully turned a blind eye to all three: (1) is torture reliable, (2) is it consistent with America’s values and Constitution, and (3) does it best serve our national interests?

No one has yet offered any validated evidence that torture produces reliable intelligence. While torture apologists frequently make the claim that torture saves lives, that assertion is directly contradicted by many Army, FBI, and CIA professionals who have actually interrogated al Qaeda captives. Exhibit A is the torture-extracted confession of Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, an al Qaeda captive who told the CIA in 2001, having been “rendered” to the tender mercies of Egypt, that Saddam Hussein had trained al Qaeda to use WMD. It appears that this confession was the only information upon which, in late 2002, the president, the vice president, and the secretary of state repeatedly claimed that “credible evidence” supported that claim, even though a now-declassified Defense Intelligence Agency report from February 2002 questioned the reliability of the confession because it was likely obtained under torture. In January 2004, al-Libi recanted his “confession,” and a month later, the CIA recalled all intelligence reports based on his statements.

Exhibit B is the case of Manadel al-Jamadi, an Iraqi deemed a “high-value” target by the CIA. After being beaten to an extent that he had several broken ribs, he was subjected to a form of crucifixion known as “Palestinian hanging.” Forty-five minutes later, he was dead, never having revealed whatever vital, ticking-bomb information his American interrogator was seeking.

If there is reliable evidence that torture has, in fact, interrupted ticking time bombs and saved lives, the gravity of the crisis created by the administration’s free-wheeling torture policy demands straight answers which can be weighed and evaluated by a bipartisan, blue-ribbon commission whose membership might include interrogators, jurists, theologians, national security specialists, military leaders, and political leaders. The damage to our national interests and the dismal record of war candor by this administration has made “trust us” an insufficient justification for such a profound change in American law and moral values.

The Journal claims that Abu Ghraib was an anomaly — that it has become a “torture narrative” that erroneously blames the CIA for the abuses depicted in the infamous photographs. The Schlesinger report was cited for the conclusion that the perpetrators were merely a group of sadistic, poorly trained Reservists. This argument, however begs the question; the rationale for the McCain amendment rests not upon Abu Ghraib, but upon the cascading stream of documented reports from other places in Afghanistan and Iraq in which brutal torture has been either authorized or winked at by several different military and civilian chains of command.

The Journal further distorts the facts by arguing that techniques such as waterboarding (which induces the sensation of drowning), leaving prisoners outdoors in freezing weather, and stress positions which can cause suffocation and collapse, are not really “torture,” but are just “psychological techniques designed to break a detainee.” There is, certainly, a psychological component to torture, but the real issue is whether what’s done causes severe physical or mental pain or suffering. Of the crucifixion form of “psychological” pressure which the CIA worked upon Jamadi, one of the soldiers who cut him down said he had never seen anyone’s arms positioned like that; “[I] was surprised they didn’t just pop out of their sockets.”

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has endorsed the McCain amendments, and declared, “In the face of this perilous climate, our nation must not embrace a morality based on an attitude that ‘desperate times call for desperate measures.’ There can be no compromise on the moral imperative to protect the basic human rights of any individual incarcerated for any reason.” Our embrace of torture is completely inconsistent with our commitment to equal justice and the rule of law.

The Journal assumes that only the worst of the worst will be subjected to torture when it comes to ticking time bombs. Not only is that assumption unfounded, based upon the widespread abuses in Iraq, it was tried and abandoned by the Israelis. Because it is impossible to confirm with advance certainty what any suspect actually knows, ticking bomb torture can be justified in virtually every interrogation. When Israel experimented with “torture lite,” supposedly reserved for ticking-bomb circumstances, it was not long before 85 percent of all Palestinian detainees were being given the harshest treatment allowed. The capability to finely calibrate torture has eluded every democratic government which has tried it.

The inescapable fact is that America’s standing in the world, and especially in the Middle East, has never been lower. The price we have paid for our misdirected torture policies has been incalculable. The Arab street may not always grasp the finer points of separation of powers or proportional representation; but everyone, everywhere, comprehends hypocrisy, and judges us for ours. If the torture advocates truly believe that the value of violently coerced information has been worth the plummeting drop in America’s world stature, or that such information is worth the clear and present endangerment of captured Americans, it’s time to justify the claimed value of torture to the nation in whose name it’s being done. Not assumptions, not generalizations, not, “I can’t explain because it’s classified.”

The president and vice president wish to chart a course of heretofore unacceptable savagery toward anyone even suspected of terrorism. If we are to become a nation where a president may torture anyone he wishes, it deserves a broad, sober, fact-based national debate.

Brigadier General David R. Irvine is a retired Army Reserve strategic intelligence officer who taught prisoner interrogation and military law for 18 years with the Sixth Army Intelligence School. He currently practices law in Salt Lake City, Utah.

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More evidence of CIA landings in Malta surfaces

By David Lindsay in the Malta Independent

Following last week’s report that at least two planes, widely suspected of being used by the United States Intelligence Agency in its controversial practice of extraordinary rendition, had made stopovers in Malta, this newspaper can report the presence of yet another, larger, suspected aircraft at Malta International Airport on two occasions just last year.

With more European governments joining the protest over the CIA’s use of their airspace and airports in the controversial practice of extraordinary rendition, and with the Council of Europe also investigating the practice, the government of Malta has so far remained silent on the issue, undoubtedly otherwise absorbed by this week’s CHOGM activities.

The Malta Independent on Sunday last week reported flight records and photographs showed that at least two airplanes used by the CIA for the transport of suspected terrorists for interrogation in countries where the use of torture is condoned, had stopped over in Malta in December 2003 and December 2004.

Ongoing investigations by this newspaper into the use of Malta’s airport and airspace by the CIA have revealed the presence of another suspected plane ‘ a Lockheed L-100 Hercules with tail number N8213G, which stopped over in Malta on 31 March 2004 and again on 25 August of the same year.

The Hercules is the latest plane implicated in extraordinary rendition and has been reported to have made several stops in Scandinavia. The Hercules, the largest of the CIA planes spotted in Malta, has space for cargo and about 100 passengers.

While the Boeing 737 and the Gulfstream are relatively nondescript aircraft, the Hercules carries a large ‘Prescott’ logo on its side. The private planes being used by the CIA are owned by shell companies and the Prescott Support company is widely believed to be one of the several companies serving as covers for the CIA’s clandestine prisoner transports.

Extraordinary rendition refers to the controversial American procedure in which criminal suspects are apprehended, sometimes secretly, and sent for interrogation in countries where torture is used as a routine form of interrogation. Reports cite suspects being arrested, shackled, blindfolded and sedated, after which they are transported, usually by private jet, to countries such as Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Uzbekistan. Although the practice has been in use since the 1990s, its scope has been widened immensely since 11 September 2001.

Last Sunday this newspaper cited a Boeing 737, with tail number N313P, as the first suspected plane to have stopped over in Malta between 6 and 10 December 2003. The plane had arrived from the RAF’s Northolt air base on 6 December 2003 and left four days later on 10 December bound for Tripoli. A year later a second plane, a Gulfstream jet with tail number N227SV, arrived in Malta on 17 December 2004 and left later that day for Iceland, from where it flew to Washington DC.

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CIA ‘torture trips’ using city airport

“If the planes were suspected of carrying narcotics, as opposed to kidnapped human beings facing interrogation under torture, there is no doubt that the police would intercept these flights the minute they touched down in the UK.” – Craig Murray

By GARETH EDWARDS in the Scotsman

THE CIA is using Edinburgh Airport as a refuelling stop for “torture” flights carrying terror suspects. The secret flights are suspected of carrying Islamic militants from the US to Eastern European countries where torture can be used legally. Police have now been urged to investigate whether any crimes have been committed in Edinburgh after it emerged 14 of the “rendition” flights stopped in the Capital over the last four years.

Lothians Green MSP Mark Ballard said today: “I am sure that many people in Edinburgh will be revolted that such abuses of human rights could be taking place right in their own backyard.”

It had long been known that both Prestwick and Glasgow had been used as a pit-stop for the flights, but now Edinburgh, as well as RAF Leuchars, Inverness and Wick have been linked to the scandal. Mr Ballard has written to Lothian and Borders Police outlining his concerns that crimes may have been committed in Scottish airspace or on the ground in Edinburgh, and asking the Chief Constable to investigate.

Under UN conventions and the European Convention on Human Rights, torture, including acts which aid or abet torture, is illegal. Holyrood was told yesterday that the American government did not deny flying prisoners to Eastern Europe where they could employ what were described as aggressive interrogation techniques which are not allowed in the US.

The figures provided by the American authorities stated that Prestwick and Glasgow had been used for refuelling rendition flights 149 times since 2001, with RAF Leuchars used six times, Inverness five times and Wick twice.

It is not clear whether Lothian and Borders Police will have to investigate the complaint regarding Edinburgh Airport, however, and no-one from the police was available for comment.

Strathclyde Police refused to investigate the flights in Glasgow as they did not believe there was enough evidence of a criminal act being committed in Scotland. However, the Greens argued that police need only have “reasonable suspicion” that a crime has been committed. And they said this was provided by the documents provided by the US government detailing the many rendition flights which have stopped at Scottish airports.

Mr Ballard said: “Such activities are illegal and Lothians and Borders Police have a duty to uphold the law, so we have asked them to investigate the use of Edinburgh Airport by torture flights as a matter of urgency.

“I believe there is a very real risk that individuals’ human rights are being violated within our jurisdiction and that we have a duty to act. I’m sure the vast majority of Scots, including Edinburgh residents, expect our police to ensure that Scotland plays no part in torture.”

A former British ambassador said today that police had full power to board the flights. Craig Murray, who resigned from the Foreign Office over the Government’s role in the war on terror, said officers had a “duty” to intervene.

“If the planes were suspected of carrying narcotics, as opposed to kidnapped human beings facing interrogation under torture, there is no doubt that the police would intercept these flights the minute they touched down in the UK.” Mr Murray said he believed the flights were refuelling in Scotland because the UK was afraid of losing access to US intelligence.

A spokesman for BAA Scotland said: “As an airport we are not allowed to turn away any flight, unless the airport is full.”

The issue has already been taken up at Westminster by Sir Menzies Campbell, who has tabled a series of questions about planes using RAF bases, such as Northolt, in north London. He says the UK should have no part in the “illegal and immoral” torture flights.

Ministry of Defence sources have insisted that American flights can land anywhere in the UK if they have obtained diplomatic clearance. Officials have no way of knowing who or what was on those flights.

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Uzbekistan switching its gaze to Russia

People victims of old-styled, superpower politics, former British ambassador says

By ESTANISLAO OZIEWICZ in Globe and Mail

With Uzbekistan’s expulsion of NATO, its break with the United States and its recent signing of a defence pact with Russia, the most populous and heavily armed country in Central Asia has now completely switched strategic horses.

“The disaster, of course, is for the poor people of Uzbekistan, who are living in grinding, worsening poverty and with no freedom,” said Craig Murray, the former British ambassador who was removed from his post a year ago after his internal criticism of human-rights abuses in the former Soviet republic became public. “They are the victims of classic, old-fashioned, superpower politics, with the United States, Russia and to a lesser extent China, competing for influence in the region, just like Cold War times.”

Uzbekistan this week told NATO allies that they must withdraw troops and stop using Uzbek airspace by Jan. 1. On Monday, the U.S. military flew its last plane out from an air base in Uzbekistan that had been an important hub for operations in Afghanistan.

All the while Tashkent was nudging closer to Moscow, where Russian President Vladmir Putin has accepted his Uzbekistan counterpart’s insistence that in his regime’s bloody crackdown in the eastern city of Andijan last May, he was merely putting down a revolt led by Islamic militants. Earlier this month, the two countries signed an agreement that allows for Russian military deployment in the Central Asian nation.

A glaring spotlight was put on the West’s relationship with President Islam Karimov during the Andijan crackdown. Earlier this week, the United Nations urged Uzbekistan to stop harassing eyewitnesses to the Andijan suppression and expressed regret that Tashkent has rejected repeated calls by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour for an independent inquiry.

Last week, the European Union banned 12 Uzbek officials from entering Europe because of their involvement in the Andijan crackdown. Earlier, the EU had imposed an arms embargo on Uzbekistan and suspended a co-operation pact.

Mr. Murray, who has since resigned from the foreign service, has kept up a barrage of criticism of Mr. Karimov’s harsh, dictatorial regime and of the policies that underlined Washington’s alliance with Tashkent after Sept. 11, 2001.

He said it was clear from the start that Mr. Karimov’s dalliance with Western economic liberalization would not last long under his totalitarian approach.

“The switching of alliance was an inevitable consequence of the decision not to go to capitalism. That’s what drives it all, rather than short-term events like Andijan or individual spats over UN resolutions.”

Mr. Murray acknowledges some satisfaction that his criticisms of Mr. Karimov and of the approach by Washington and London proved correct.

“The policies were so stupid, so obviously wrong and it seemed to be founded, to some extent, on self-delusion. I think that the Americans had managed to convince themselves – against all the evidence – that Karimov was a reformer.”

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“Blind to the ‘Butcher of Andijan'”

By Andrew Stroehlein in European Voice

Uzbekistan Interior Minister Zakirjon Almatov is currently on an extended visit to Germany. Nothing strange or particularly newsworthy about that, you might think – until you realise that Almatov has been declared persona non grata by the EU. He is officially prohibited from visiting the EU, and yet, he is here all the same.

On 14 November, the Council issued travel bans on 12 Uzbek officials “directly responsible for the indiscriminate and disproportionate use of force” in the massacre of hundreds of unarmed protesters in the east Uzbekistan city of Andijan on 13 May, 2005. The name Zakirjon Almatov tops the EU’s travel blacklist.

The German Foreign Ministry defends its decision to allow Almatov to stay in the country despite the visa ban against him, saying it is acting “on humanitarian grounds”, because he is receiving medical treatment at a clinic in Hanover. That must seem a cruel joke to the victims of the Andijan massacre. They know Almatov as “The Butcher of Andijan”, a man who showed little humanity as he told protesters there would be no negotiations just before government troops started firing into the crowd.

The Andijan massacre’s victims include not only those murdered in May but also witnesses and their families, who continue to face harassment from the Uzbek authorities anxious to silence them and, as documented in September reports by Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, enforce their version of history. The Uzbek government would like the world to believe Andijan was the start of an attempted “Islamist insurgency” and they’ve been going through a lot of trouble trying to get that point across. Running propaganda films at their embassies worldwide has been the least of it.

The authorities have tortured confessions out of supposed insurgents as part of a completely choreographed Stalinist-style show trial that concluded last week with, to no one’s surprise, fifteen out of fifteen convictions and the government’s version of events fully upheld. In an apparent prelude to a second show-trial, they have also denounced a number of domestic and foreign journalists on national television for their part in the grand plot to overthrow the state.

The Uzbek security services have continued to pursue and harass refugees who were forced to leave the country after Andijan. A few hundred are now safe in camps in Romania, but as many as 2,000 more remain at risk just across the Uzbek border in Kyrgyzstan.

Perhaps the new German government will take into account some of these victims and consider dealing with them on humanitarian grounds rather than favouring their oppressors. The whole point of visa bans, after all, is to punish elites by denying them the sort of luxuries they enjoy. This sort of high-quality healthcare in particular is something they cannot get in their own countries and exempting it utterly defeats the point of sanctions.

The Council’s decree was an admirable move. Along with the visa ban, it declared an embargo on “arms, military equipment and other equipment that might be used for internal repression”. The travel and trade restrictions will be in place for one year, when the Council will look at Tashkent’s progress on several human rights issues, including the outcome of an independent, international inquiry into the events in Andijan – an idea Uzbekistan has consistently rejected. Yes, the EU decree came embarrassingly late and the list of twelve officials rather oddly omits the authoritarian regime’s ruler, President Islam Karimov, but generally it represented a positive step.

However, what good is Europe’s principled decree if it is openly flouted from the very day it is made?

Germany has a military base in Termez, Uzbekistan, but while that might have been an excuse to avoid agreement on European measures in the first place, surely it cannot be used to justify the hypocrisy of announcing restrictions and contravening them at the same time. If Germany has sacrificed its principles to maintain Termez, it hardly seems worth it: to support German troops in Afghanistan, they could easily operate through Manas, Kyrgyzstan, or indeed Bagram, Afghanistan.

A spokesperson for EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana has said of Germany’s decision to let Almatov stay: “We don’t see a problem.” If they truly fail to see the problem with breaking rules as they are making them, then Berlin and Brussels must be blind.

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Uzbekistan grants Germany use of its airports in return for medical treatment for minister implicated in massacre?

From Muslim Uzbekistan

General Z.Almatov was the key person along with Islam Karimov in Andijan bloodshed / The German Air Force will continue using Uzbek territory for providing support to operations in Afghanistan, the German Embassy in Tashkent was quoted by Interfax on Thursday.

“The German Air Force is using the airport of the Uzbek town of Termez on regular terms,” an embassy source said.

The embassy denied reports that the Uzbek authorities had officially banned Germany from using Uzbek airspace. “This information can be qualified as rumors,” the source said.

An Uzbek Foreign Ministry source also confirmed to Interfax that German servicemen are continuing to use the Termez airport, which is located close to the Afghan border, to support the antiterrorist coalition’s activity in southern Uzbekistan.

“No warnings were issued to Germany on this account. Such notes were sent to the embassies of Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Sweden,” the ministry source said.

A high-ranking source from the NATO headquarters was cited on November 23 as saying that Uzbekistan had banned the NATO member-states to use its airspace. Furthermore, the source was reported to say that such notifications were sent particularly to Germany, Spain and Belgium.

On November 14 the European Union decided to impose a travel ban to the EU on 12 Uzbek officials and an arms embargo due to the refusal by Uzbek authorities to allow an international inquiry into the events in May in the city of Andijan. The list included the interior minister Zakirjan Almatov who is directly responsible along with Islam Karimov for the Andijan massacre.

However, nowadays Almatov receives treatment in Hanover, Germany.

According to Uzland.Info Almatov was granted a visa to Germany from the second attempt. At first Germany reportedly refused but after Uzbekistan threatened it with withdrawal of its military units in Termez they allowed massacre minister to get treatment.

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No comment to Parlimentary question on torture

A question on Uzbekistan from Hansards parlimentary records of 15th November

John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how regularly the Uzbek authorities provide the British security services with intelligence information; what assessment he has made of whether information provided by those authorities has been obtained by torture; and if he will assess the effect of that information on the maintenance of British security.

Mr. Douglas Alexander: It is not the Government’s policy to comment on intelligence matters.

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FCO stalls on Craig Murray book clearance

Rather disappointingly, there has been no news yet from the Foreign Affairs Select Committe on whether they have recieved documents from the Foreign and Comonwealth Office that are key to their current deliberations on human rights. It appears the FCO is also stalling on other issues. We post below an excange of e-mails regarding the clearance of Craig Murray’s book that the FCO seems to be taking rather too long to consider.

From: Craig Murray

Sent: 24 November 2005 08:28

To: Richard.Stagg

Subject: RE: Craig’s book

Dickie,

I am not sure about the must. Your legal options are in fact rather limited. Given that the latest section is about six pages long, nor do I accept that you cannot meet the deadline, as a new round of consultation on just six pages is not something that should take over a fortnight, particularly as there is nothing in those six pages remotely touching on the national interest.

I understand that, with Jeremy, you were in touch over sections of the book at a time, pointing out potential difficulties. I think you are just stalling to prevent publication. I am willing to consider agreeing to amendment where you have reasonable points to make. If you don’t make them jolly quick, you will miss your chance.

Craig

—————————————————-

From: [email protected]

Sent: 24 November 2005 07:45

To: [email protected]

Subject: RE: Craig’s book

Craig,

Thank you for the latest sections of your book, which have been safely received.

We are working to process them as quickly as practicable. But we will not be able to meet your end November deadline, as each new section involves a further round of consultation.

I shall be in touch before the end of next week, however, to give you an indication of when the process should be complete. As you know, you must await the outcome of this process before publishing your work in any form.

Dickie.

—–Original Message—–

From: Craig Murray [mailto:[email protected]]

Sent: 20 November 2005 13:47

To: [email protected]

Subject: Craig’s book

Dickie,

What follows is the start of the last chapter of my book. You now have everything which requires clearance. There is some further writing after this, but it covers events after I left FCO employment and does not require your clearance.

I look forward to hearing from you very quickly, at the latest by the end of this month.

Craig

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Uzbekistan looks east for new friends

By Simon Tisdall in The Guardian

It looks like Craig Murray was right all along. To the US’s annoyance, Britain’s former ambassador to Uzbekistan publicly criticised human rights abuses by President Islam Karimov’s government. Mr Murray lost his job last year. But even the most hard-nosed US strategists could not turn a blind eye to the massacre in the town of Andijan in May. The ensuing confrontation, all the more explosive for being delayed, has come at a high price to Washington’s interests in central Asia.

Rejecting western demands for an independent inquiry into Andijan, when hundreds died, the ostensibly pro-American Mr Karimov has switched sides. He ordered the US to close its military base in Uzbekistan, a key part of its Afghan operations. And he turned to China for consolation.

Beijing, keen to expand its regional clout and discourage indigenous Muslim “splittists”, unquestioningly accepted his claim to be battling an Islamist insurrection. Moscow, with Chechnya in mind, also sympathised. At a Kremlin ceremony last week Mr Karimov signed a mutual defence pact with Russia. Yesterday Nato was also kicked out. Washington’s Uzbek policy lay in tatters.

With its valuable oil, gas and mineral reserves and authoritarian political tradition, Uzbekistan is a typical battleground in what is fast becoming an epic, three-way struggle for power, influence and resources in post-Soviet central Asia. “Its the world’s last vacuum,” said Kalman Mizsei, regional director of the United Nations development programme. “The region has become a playground for rival geopolitical interests.” But increased cooperation rather than competition between countries should be the aim, he said.

Having “lost” Uzbekistan, the US, EU and Japan are nervously tracking unfavourable trends in two of its neighbours. As in Ukraine and Georgia, Kyrgyzstan’s “tulip revolution” last March has brought disappointment in its wake. The government of Kurmanbek Bakiyev has been beset by troubles, including the killing of three MPs.

Mr Bakiyev threatened to use troops to impose order earlier this month. “Those taking up arms and attempting to speak a language of force with the authorities will be terminated, full stop,” he warned in a manner reminiscent of his ousted predecessors.

Kyrgyzstan, meanwhile, wants the US to pay more for the use of its airbase there – or face an Uzbek-style eviction. The demand follows claims that the Pentagon connived in under-the-table payments worth millions of dollars to the family and friends of the deposed president, Askar Akayev.

The integrity of Kazakhstan’s presidential election on December 4 is also giving cause for concern. Visiting last month, Condoleezza Rice, US secretary of state, urged Nursultan Nazarbayev, the president, to ensure fair polls. She denied the US was soft-pedalling to safeguard its oil and security interests, an accusation also heard during Azerbaijan’s flawed elections last month. Since her departure a leading opposition figure, Zamanbek Nurkadilov, has mysteriously died of gunshot wounds amid claims of intimidation and media bias. But Mr Nazarbayev’s spokesman reassuringly said there was no need to rig the polls. “The president would win even if we sat around doing nothing,” he said.

Democracy’s trials in central Asia are of less concern for Russia and China, which may give them a short-term advantage. Ignoring the human rights issues highlighted by Mr Murray, both are building economic ties bilaterally and through the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, to which most central Asian states belong. But Mr Mizsei said Russia would resist China’s advances. “All these countries are more familiar with a Soviet big brother than a Chinese one,” he said. “There will definitely be a divergence of interests.”

If and when that happens, the west could win in the east.

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Italian prosecuter to push ahead with prosecution of CIA agents “in absentia”

Italy prosecutor, boss clash over CIA case

By John Crewdson in the Chigaco Tribune

NEW YORK – The chief anti-terrorism prosecutor for northern Italy says he intends to prosecute 22 past and present CIA operatives on kidnapping charges “in absentia,” an unusual though not unprecedented criminal proceeding that would likely lay bare some of the intelligence agency’s most sensitive inner workings.

In an interview while attending an anti-terrorism conference here last week, the prosecutor, Armando Spataro, vowed to push ahead with the trial even if, as seems increasingly likely, none of the defendants will ever be extradited.

Spataro has asked the Italian justice minister, Roberto Castelli, to formally request that the Bush administration extradite the 22 CIA defendants to Milan to stand trial. Spataro dismissed charges by Castelli on Tuesday that the actions were politically motivated.

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Uzbekistan to ban some NATO overflights-alliance

From Reuters Alertnet

Uzbekistan has told European members of NATO they will not be able to use its airspace or territory for operations linked to peacekeeping in neighbouring Afghanistan, alliance officials said on Wednesday.

They said they understood the ban would take effect from Jan. 1 and that it was in response to a European Union decision to impose visa bans on 12 top Uzbek officials and an arms embargo on the central Asian state over the deaths of up to 500 people during a demonstration in May.

“NATO itself has not been notified of this but individual European nations have,” a NATO official told a briefing, speaking on a customary basis of anonymity.

A ban would primarily affect Germany, which has been using Uzbekistan for logistical and air support.

“Germany is the country most affected, but alternative arrangements are possible. There will be no diminishment of our capacity to support ISAF,” the official said, referring to the 9,000-strong NATO-led peacekeeping force in Afghanistan.

The Uzbek move comes as NATO is seeking to expand its Afghan presence from the north, west and capital Kabul into the more dangerous south.

Germany has supplied some of its 2,000-plus troops serving with ISAF in Afghanistan via the Uzbek air base of Termez close to Afghanistan’s northern border.

Witnesses say about 500 people were killed on May 13 when Uzbek troops fired into a crowd in the eastern town of Andizhan to put down a rebellion. Uzbek authorities put the number at 187 and said they were mostly “foreign-paid terrorists.”

Uzbekistan signed in 1994 a so-called “partnership for peace” agreement to nurture closer ties with NATO and has also signed an accord that allows alliance troops in principle to use its territory.

NATO has taken no action to downgrade the partnership for peace agreement since the violence, although it has cancelled some meetings with Uzbekistan to make the point that it was not business as usual.

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