The ‘missing’ laptop 9

As you know, I gave evidence on Tuesday in Strasbourg before the Council of Europe Inquiry into Extraordinary Rendition. My evidence was on the willingness of the CIA to obtain information extracted under torture by foreign intelligence agencies, as the basis of the extraordinary rendition programme. I also provided documentary evidence of British government collusion with the CIA in obtaining torture intelligence.

On return from the Council of Europe, my suitcase has disappeared, including all my documents and notes and my laptop computer.

In dealing with the intelligence services, particularly in a situation which makes them hostile to you, there is a real danger of occasional paranoia. But it is a strange coincidence that on this particular occasion my computer and notes disappear, and a couple of factors make it stranger.

I flew Strasbourg to Paris Orly then Paris Orly to London City. This did not involve any change of terminal and there were a clear two hours between flights.

On arrival at London City, when my bag did not arrive, I went to the luggage desk to report it. The gentleman there affected surprise, waited for a while for the conveyor to clear, and then was taking down the details, including my name and the baggage check number. I spotted a handwritten piece of paper tucked under the keyboard of his computer – on which was already written my name and baggage check number. I challenged him on this, and he said that he had already received an email telling him my luggage was not on the plane.

Of course I wondered why he had not told me this, and why we had gone through the charade of waiting for the carousel to clear, and then asking me for details which he already had written down in front of him. Indeed, as he remained in front of his computer all the time, why would he have to copy down the email from his computer screen at all, and then lodge it under his computer, when he could just read the email off the screen?

When I returned home, I called the central Air France luggage number, and they told me that my suitcase had been located at Orly and was booked on the 7pm flight into London City. When it did not arrive, I phoned them again. They said that it had not been put on that flight, and was being held at the airport so it could not be rebooked on another flight. They could not tell me why it was being held, or who I might speak to about it.

An innocent explanation is not impossible, but it seems to me that the most probable explanation of these events is that the papers and computer of a witness to a Council of Europe inquiry have been intercepted by one member state, possibly acting in collusion with another State or States.

It is of course in the nature of such actions that it is difficult to prove, but I think the circumstances are such as to justify the CofE speaking to the French and British Ambassadors to make plain that the intimidation of witnesses before Senator Marty’s inquiry will not be accepted. They might ask them for a direct assurance that their employees have not intercepted or opened my baggage on the way back from Strasbourg, other than any search by customs etc not capable of being construed as in any way related to the subjects on which I gave evidence at the Council of Europe.

Craig Murray

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9 thoughts on “The ‘missing’ laptop

  • Bob Morris

    "Even paranoids have real enemies."

    As a computer professional, I hope you have backups. If you didn't, start doing them now. Losing important data is how we all learn to do backups.

    As an leftie blogger, my laptop never leaves my sight when I'm flying. It's always carry-on, and it goes under my seat.

    And there's nothing on that can't be recovered.

  • DrHyde

    Never mind government interference – there's enough thieving bastards amongst baggage handlers that anything valuable goes with me in the cabin. That includes my camera, laptop, and any original documents I might be carrying.

  • NYelvie


    That is awful! I hope that it turns up soon. If it doesn't make it back to London, I wager that it can be found in Florida. Maybe you can ask one of those nice people who emailed you to look for it?


  • Digital Spy

    whatever you do do not use the commercial (or free) versions of PGP. Anyone who recommends this course of action to you is either someone who knows not what he is talking about or someone who wants you to be at risk.

  • Bob Morris

    Digital Spy commented on my blog that maybe he'd appeared grumpy here and that his main point is – if they get the private key from you, then they can read the disk. Which is absolutely true.

    Hope your laptop returns soon and intact.

  • Jherad

    An old quote which pretty much sums up my thoughts on PGP:

    "'Oh please Mr. Terrorist, don't use that unbreakable Phil Zimmerman code…' said brer rabbit. 'Oh please, anything but that nasty old PGP!!!'"

    Government agencies like to proclaim very loudly about how they hate PGP because it is unbreakable. VERY loudly. Take from that what you will.

  • Ashley Stevens

    Craig, surely you don't check your laptop? Even if not taken by the security services, it will very likely be stolen or broken.

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