Proof of Complicity in Torture 40


An FCO source warns me this morning that a vicious rearguard action is being fought within the FCO, to ensure that any government inquiry excludes my evidence and does not consider whether there was a policy of complicity with torture. Rather the security services wish it only to look at individual cases like Binyam Mohammed and assess compensation for them. The cover-up that these individual cases were accidents would be maintained.

I have now obtained under the Freedom of Information Act the final documents in the Tashkent series. These show beyond doubt that there was an official policy of obtaining intelligence through torture. I was, to the best of my knowledge, the only senior civil servant to enter a written objection to the policy of complicity with torture.

The picture built up by these documents is overwhelming and undeniable evidence of a policy of complicity in torture, even despite the censorship by government. The censorship has removed all mentions of the role of the CIA in procuring the torture intelligence from the Uzbek security services, and passing it on to MI6. Protection of the CIA appears to be the primary aim of the censor.

I set out below transcripts of the documents with a link to each document beneath.

CENSORED

CENSORED

FM TASHKENT

TO IMMEDIATE FCO

TELNO 147

OF 170345Z DECEMBER 02

INFO IMMEDIATE UKMIS NEW YORK, UKMIS GENEVA, UKDEL VIENNA

FOR PUS AND MICHAEL WOOD

FOR HEADS OF MISSION UKMIS NEW YORK, UKMIS GENEVA AND UKDEL VIENNA

SUBJECT: RECEIPT OF INTELLIGENCE PROBABLY OBTAINED UNDER TORTURE

1. CENSORED

This is useless, immoral and I believe illegal.

2. UN Special Rapporteur on Torture van Boven recently visited Uzbekistan. As a result of his investigation he described the use of torture by the Uzbek authorities as “widespread” and “systemic”. This accords with our own description of it as “endemic”. Suspected Islamic radicals are particularly often tortured – with increasing frequency to death.

3. I doubt the situation is much better in other Central Asian states. CENSORED

What safeguards are in place to ensure that we are not receiving, and potentially exposing Ministers to, intelligence obtained under torture?

4. CENSORED

5. Two thoughts occur. CENSORED

6. I would be grateful for the opinion of Sir Michael Wood on the legality in both international and UK domestic law of receiving material there are reasonable grounds to suspect was obtained under torture, and the position of both Ministers and civil servants in this regard.

MURRAY

CENSORED

View Document

CENSORED

CENSORED

DEYOU

FM FCO

TO IMMEDIATE TASHKENT

TELNO 323

OF 241445Z DECEMBER 02

INFO IMMEDIATE UKMIS NEW YORK, UKMIS GENEVA, UKDEL VIENNA

YOUR TELNO 147

FROM WILLIAM EHRMANN (IN PUS’S ABSENCE)

SUBJECT: DEYOU: INTELLIGENCE PROBABLY RECEIVED UNDER TORTURE

1. CENSORED

I have consulted Michael Wood.

CENSORED

2. No-one is in any doubt that torture is endemic in Uzbekistan, as van Boven’s report testifies. Your suggestion that intelligence is extracted under torture is disturbing.

CENSORED

3. CENSORED

4. I do hope that this reassures you. If not, perhaps we can have a discreet conversation in the margins of the FCO Leadership Conference.

STRAW

Main

DG DefInt

CENSORED

View Document

CENSORED

CENSORED

Manuscript Note: Matthew Kidd, CENSORED

Grateful for views from both CENSORED and Legal Advisers.

Wm Ehrman

Fm Tashkent

To Routine FCO

TELNO Misc 01

Of 220903 January 03

INFO ROUTINE UKMIS NEW YORK, UKMIS GENEVA, UKDEL VIENNA

FOR WILLIAM EHRMAN

Your relno 323

RECEIPT OF INTELLIGENCE PROBABLY OBTAINED UNDER TORTURE

1. Thank you for TUR. I apologise for not findng you at the Leadership Conference, but I had decided to drop this. What seemed to be a major concern seemed not a problem to others, and this caused me some self-doubt.

2. However I see that the Economist of 11 to 17 January devoted its front cover, a full page editorial and four whole pages of article to precisely the question I had raised. Reading a newspaper on the flight back here 12 January, I was astonished to find two pages of the Sunday Mail devoted to exactly the same concerns. Back in Tashkent, I find Human Rights Watch urging the US government not to extradite Uzbek detainees from Afghanistan back to Uzbekistan on the same grounds. All of which emboldens me to think I am in good company in my concern. These stories all quote US sources as indicating that the CIA is accepting intelligence obtained under torture by “allied” governments. As I already explained, I too believe that to be most probably true here.

3. CENSORED

You accept that torture of detainees in Uzbekistan is widespread. Redacted.

4. CENSORED.

I can give you mounds of evidence on torture by the Uzbek security services, and I have et victims and their families. I have seen with my own eyes a respected elder break down in court as he recounted how his sons were tortured in front of him as he was urged to confess to links – I have no doubt entirely spurious – with Bin Laden. Redacted.

5. CENSORED.

6. I am worried about the legal position. I am not sure that a wilful blindness to how material is obtained would be found a valid defence in law to the accusation of having received material obtained under torture. My understanding is that receiving such material would be both a crime in UK domestic law and contrary to international law. Is this true? I would like a direct answer on this.

7. CENSORED.

8. The methods of the Uzbek intelligence services are completely beyond the pale. Torture including pulling out of fingernails, electrocution through genitals, rape of dependants, immersion in boiling liquid – is becoming common, and I weigh those words very carefully. CENSORED.

MURRAY

YYYY

Single Copies

DG DEFINT 1

CENSORED

View Document

CENSORED

From: Linda Duffield

Date: 10 March 2003

Reference: 1

To PUS

cc: Michael Wood, Legal Adviser

Matthew Kidd CENSORED

SUBJECT: UZBEKISTAN; INTELLIGENCE POSSIBLY OBTAINED UNDER TORTURE

1. Michael Wood, Matthew Kidd and I had a meeting with Craig Murray (Me, British Ambassador to Tashkent) to discuss his telegram (Tashkent Telno Misc 01).

CENSORED

I said you had asked me to discuss this with Craig personally in view of the sensitive nature of the issues involved.

2. Craig said his concerns had been prompted by a presentation to the Uzbek authorities by Professor Korff (OSCE Adviser) on the UN Convention on Torture. Craig said that his understanding was that it was also an offence under the Convention to receive or to possess information obtained under torture. He asked for clarification on this. Michael Wood replied that he did not believe that possession of information was in itself an offence, but undertook to re-read the Convention and to ensure that Craig had a reply on this particular point.

3. I gave Craig a copy of your revised draft telegram (attached) and took him through this. I said that he was right to raise with you and Ministers (Jack Straw) his concerns about important legal and moral issues. We took these very seriously and gave a great deal of thought to such issues ourselves. There were difficult ethical and moral issues involved and at times difficult judgements had to be made weighing one clutch of “moral issues” against another. It was not always easy for people in post (embassies) to see and appreciate the broader picture, eg piecing together intelligence material from different sources in the global fight against terrorism. But that did not mean we took their concerns any less lightly.

4. CENSORED

5. After Michael Wood and Matthew Kidd had left, Craig and I had a general discussion about the human rights situation in Uzbekistan and the difficulties of pushing for a Resolution in Geneva, which we both agreed was important.

CENSORED

CONCLUSION

6. In conclusion, Craig said that he was grateful for the decision to discuss these issues with me personally. At the end of the day he accepted, as a public servant, that these were decisions for Ministers to take, whether he agreed with them or not. If it ever reached the stage where he could not accept such a decision, then the right thing to do would be to request a move. But he was certainly not there yet. He had fed in his views. You and Ministers had decided how to handle this question. He accepted that and would now go back to Tashkent and “Get on with the job”.

7. I think it was right to see him. I am not sure this is the end of the issue (or correspondence), but it was a frank and amicable discussion and Craig appears to be making efforts to balance his work on human rights with other FCO objectives. We shall, of course, be reviewing these again once he has produced his post objectives for the upcoming year.

Signed

Linda Duffield

Director Wider Europe

View Document

Linda Duffield

UZBEKISTAN

Last night the Foreign Secretary (Jack Straw) read a copy of your minute of 10 March reporting your conversation (in the company of Michael Wood and Matthew Kidd) with Craig Murray.

The Foreign Secretary agrees with the PUS that you handled this very well. He has asked me to thank you.

Signed

Simon McDonald

(Assistant Private Secretary to Jack Straw)

14 March 2003

cc PUS

PS/PUS

Michael Wood

Matthew Kidd

Alan Charlton

View Document

FROM: Michael Wood,

Legal Adviser

cc: PS/PUS

Matthew Kidd, WLD

Linda Duffield

UZBEKISTAN: INTELLIGENCE POSSIBLY OBTAINED UNDER TORTURE

1. Your record of our meeting with HMA Tashkent recorded that Craig had said that his understanding was that it was also an offence under the Convention to receive or possess information obtained under torture. I said that I did not believe that this was the case, but undertook to re-read the Convention.

2. I have done so. There is nothing in the Convention to this effect. The nearest thing is article 15 which provides:

“Each State Party shall ensure that any statement which is established to have been made as a result of torture shall not be invoked as evidence in any proceedings, except against a person accused of torture as evidence that the statement was made”.

3. This does not create any offence. I woud expect that under UK law any statement established to have been made as a result of torture would not be admissible as evidence.

Signed M C Wood

Legal Adviser

View Document

Nobody can, on a critical reading through the above documents, doubt that there was a deliberate and considered UK government policy of receiving intelligence from torture, and that it had the support of Jack Straw.

The large scale censorship of the documents does not succeed in obscuring this. My favourite bit of censorship is from para 5 of my first telegram above:

“Two thoughts occur. CENSORED

Quite right, of course. There is nothing so dangerous as one of my thoughts, but two? Thank God the government have censored and protected the public from me.


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40 thoughts on “Proof of Complicity in Torture

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  • Clark

    Of course, we can expect the Mail to print juicy “Spy” stories, simply because it sells newspapers… The question almost becomes, why do the other papers not print them?

  • Anonymous

    ‘Quite wrongly I have never been really interested in reading the Mail believing it was a paper for women since its readers are more than 50% female.’

    It is cleverly aimed at the female population, making them more likely to vote tory. I also see this more and more with ‘The Sunday Post’ a newspaper that is produced in Scotland, it also has a very large female readership. A worrying trend.

  • Duncan McFarlane

    The Daily Mail is mostly a blend of factual inaccuracies, deliberate lies and illogical rants.

    The one good thing about the paper is that they sometimes publish Craig writing some actual facts combined with a bit of logic – and some of the facts on David Kelly’s death, though i suspect their motive is more to embarass the Labour party rather than them having any concern for the truth.

  • TW

    ‘The one good thing about the paper is that they sometimes publish Craig writing some actual facts combined with a bit of logic – and some of the facts on David Kelly’s death, though i suspect their motive is more to embarass the Labour party rather than them having any concern for the truth.’

    Duncan McFarlane

    You are correct.

    “I feared I’d end up dead in the woods like Dr Kelly,’ says biological warfare expert who criticised Britain and U.S.”

    “An EU expert on biological warfare has told how she fears ending up ‘dead in the woods’ like scientist Dr David Kelly after an alleged campaign of intimidation by members of MI6 and the CIA”

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-492907/I-feared-Id-end-dead-woods-like-Dr-Kelly-says-biological-warfare-expert-criticised-Britain-U-S.html

  • Holly

    Well.

    I almost don’t know what to say! I just really can’t quite get my head around this.

    Feel I should really say, Craig, I am about to go finish reading your book when I’ve typed this post and it has been an eye-opening read.

    I’m just appalled by the Government.

    Will anything change just because of the new powers in charge?

    I am inclined to think not.

    One question. Am I being stupid? I assume the convention was written long before the new, worrying, laws allowing detention without trial etc.

    So it’s not OK to invoke evidence gained under torture as evidence in court… But laws have changed. So – cant the convention be rewritten in light of this?

    I’m no expert in this matter, but suppose that then involves the ratification of the new convention – we’d do that though wouldn’t we?!

    I kind of, just want to bang my head on the table.

  • tony_opmoc

    Although I do not post here any more, I do occasionally mention Craig Murray elsewhere. Good to see that some real progress is apparently being made.

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/cameron-to-launch-inquiry-into-mi5-torture-allegations-2014031.html#comment-59969822

    tony_opmoc [Moderator] 2 days ago

    This is highly encouraging. However there is evidence, that some members of the UK Government itself were made fully aware, that torture was taking place, and that they did nothing to stop it. In fact there are serious allegations, that some individuals in Government not only did nothing to stop it, but went to great lengths to cover it up. This in fact was the subject of the UN Convention Against Torture Joint Committee on Human Rights attended by Craig Murray – Former Ambassador to Uzbekistan. There has been very little publicity about this, and it appears that the media has been complicit in its suppression, even though the inquiry took place in open session in the UK Parliament. I am not a journalist. Why was this not broadcast by the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 or SKY – or at least some news reference to it? Less than 5,000 people have watched this in over a year. What exactly are journalists for? What purpose do they serve? Shouldn’t they be finding out the truth and publicising it. How can anyone accept Torture as being acceptable under any circumstances?

    youtube.com/watch?v=LF9spgagSHI

    Tony

  • Charles Crawford

    Craig,

    Am I missing something here? What is new in these documents?

    You claim this: “These show beyond doubt that there was an official policy of obtaining intelligence through torture.”

    Er. No they don’t. Insofar as they anything, they show:

    (a) that your various points were taken up and considered fairly at a high level

    (b) that the then Government acted fully within the law as subsequently defined by the House of Lords (a judgement you praised in your first book) in considering carefully whether information which might have been extracted under torture might be used for UK national purposes.

    It is hard to escape the conclusion that you keep serving up the same old material for self-publicity purposes. There was no policy of ‘complicity with torture’ – you keep saying that, knowing that it is not true.

    Just to add for the benefit of your readers that, as you know, I admired your stand on this issue when you first started to raise it with the top of the FCO.

    What I did not admire was your unerring failure to achieve anything sensible in the case of Uzbekistan when you had a lead policy responsibility for the issue, a nasty problem which needed a sustained process of hard-nosed Western pressure and not a wild flailing of rhetorical fists aimed at your own colleagues and allies.

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