Diplomat: US, UK used torture information

From ISN

ISN SECURITY WATCH (Monday, 24 April 2006: 6.00 CET)

Former British ambassador to Uzbekistan, Craig Murray, has told European Parliament that British and US intelligence services had used information related to the “war on terror” obtained from tortured suspects.

“Under the UK-US intelligence sharing agreement the US and UK have taken a policy decision that they will get testimonies obtained under torture in third countries. I say that with regret and with certainty,” the Brussels-based Dtt-Net.com news agency quoted Murray as telling European lawmakers on Thursday.

The European Parliament is investigating allegations that the CIA used European airbases to transfer terror suspects to countries where they could be tortured. The Council of Europe has already concluded that the CIA flights took place with the tacit approval of EU governments.

Murray said he saw “evidence of scores of cases of torture in Uzbekistan”, including people boiled to death, photos of serious injuries, mutilation of genitals, rape of individual in front of their relatives “until they would sign a confession”.

He said the CIA and MI6 did not participate in the interrogations, but did share information obtained from them.

Murray served as ambassador to Uzbekistan from 2002 to 2004.

He told European parliamentarians that he had shared his concerns with the British Foreign Office, but the conclusion was reached that “we should continue to receive intelligence material obtained from confessions under torture and that this would not contravene the UN Convention against Torture”.

According to Dtt.net.com, Murray said Foreign Office legal advisor Michael Wood replied in a letter that the UN Convention against torture only forbids information obtained under torture “to be invoked as evidence in any proceedings”.

“In this way, the British formal position can be maintained when they say ‘we do not condone, use or instigate torture’,” Murray was quoted as saying.

Murray was forced to leave his post in 2004 after condemning Uzbek authorities for their poor human rights record. As ambassador to Uzbekistan, Murray had also been a vocal critic of the British and US for what he said amounted to ignoring corruption and brutality in the former Soviet republic.

Murray’s protests led him to leave the civil service.

The former ambassador said these events left a “lack of credibility of the intelligence material obtained, intended to paint the false picture that Uzbekistan opposition people were linked to al-Qaida and bin Laden”.

Regarding reports of CIA secret detention centers in Eastern Europe, Murray said he had no evidence of their existence.