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.






OF 170345Z DECEMBER 02






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?


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.



View Document







OF 241445Z DECEMBER 02






I have consulted Michael Wood.


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.



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.



DG DefInt


View Document



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



Your relno 323


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.


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


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.


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.


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.



Single Copies



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From: Linda Duffield

Date: 10 March 2003

Reference: 1


cc: Michael Wood, Legal Adviser

Matthew Kidd CENSORED


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).


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.


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.



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.


Linda Duffield

Director Wider Europe

View Document

Linda Duffield


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.


Simon McDonald

(Assistant Private Secretary to Jack Straw)

14 March 2003

cc PUS


Michael Wood

Matthew Kidd

Alan Charlton

View Document

FROM: Michael Wood,

Legal Adviser

cc: PS/PUS

Matthew Kidd, WLD

Linda Duffield


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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  • Suhayl Saadi

    This is brilliant, Craig, powerful material and good on you for getting it into the public domain. The problem with them CENSORING large parts of these materials is that the public then tends to draw their own conclusions – usually damning in nature and probably worse than if if they’d let it go through, if it’s possible. Of course the UK Govt was actively complicit as a matter of policy. I don’t expect the much-vaunted Inquiry to be much more than another whitewash – a couple of scapegoats will be found, ‘rogue elemnets’. But the structure cannot be touched. So, good on you for removing another brick from the wall. Expect a barrage of abuse now hereabouts… it will be a sign of the hard state’s resentment of, and anger towards, your actions. That is something to be proud of.

  • MJ

    Craig, if you have any record or recollection of your original communications, might it be possible to add some footnotes outlining the nature of the comments of yours that have been censored?

  • Control


    Good work.

    On a side note do you have much time for Lord Gnome and Private Eye?

    They still provide some serious quality investigative reporting and I cannot help but feel their circulation of ~200,000 could really do with being aware of this.

    Your increasing unique visitors numbers are great news and testament to the interest people have out there about what is done in their names. Anything that can be done to increase awareness and drive through more visitors cannot only be a good thing.


  • Mark Golding - Children of Iraq

    Positive Liberty – eh? Suhayl – I hope those two words fly the banner of public outrage and force Prime-Minister Cameron to review the whole diametrical, antithetical and contradictory balancing act of a not so independent Intelligent Services Committee (ISC).

    Dave Davies – we miss you!!!

  • ingo

    Well done Craig, now watch them move, wriggle, twist and turn to minimise the revelations.

    It would be great to have/know a few more Bradleys who could back this up with some US documentation to collaborate.

    Missing Mr. Camerons big announcement, is it really going to come? or have I missed it, was out all day.

  • medve

    I think there is little need for Craig Murray to run personal risk and fill in the censored bits. The material speaks for itself as it is. That and the way Craig Murray has been vilified.

  • Roderick Russell

    At June 29, 2010 5:57 PM, (on Doune The Rabbit Hole) RUTH said ?””But in my own experience there is very strong evidence to show that government agencies have used and attempted to use my children as a lever to stop sensitive matters being exposed.”

    I have had exactly the same experience, and as the list of precedents outlined in Chapter 2 of my WIKI shows (click on my signature to view the WIKI), other victims of MI5 / MI6 have experienced the same. The Boston Center for Refugee Health and Human Rights says ?” “Direct threats to him/her or to a relative are by far the most common form of torture.” One doesn’t have to travel as far away as Tashkent to find serious evidence of torture by MI5 / MI6

  • catherine

    Hello, have been following your site for a short time and am now reading your book – god, what a horror! (the content, not the writing, which is splendid). So I went to your site to see if you have any follow up on Uzbekistan and find an entire list (which could easily be a college course, you know). I was hoping things might have changed since you were there, and since you wrote the book, but it doesn’t seem so. Of the many astonishing things in the book, one that breaks my heart is the number of people there who, despite the torture and lack of what could be called a life, continue to struggle to eke out small victories here and there. Damn. . . just, damn.

    Also found the link below, a list of people who really despise you, which makes you proud and makes me laugh. Are you old enough to remember the days when progressives in the U.S. were insulted NOT to find themselves on Pres. Richard Nixon’s “enemies” list?

    So, thanks for your work, ambassador.

  • Craig


    many, many thanks. Yhese kind of messages really do help keep me going.

  • Malcolm Pryce

    ‘It was not always easy for people in post (embassies) to see and appreciate the broader picture’

    Yeah, you tend to be too literal about things, like boiling people to death.

    Well done. Craig, keep it up.

  • catherine

    I’m at about this part in your book, and what the documents fail to say, and this is so VERY, very important, is that the torture issue led the PUS people (really? wonderful acronym) to nights of lost sleep.

    Really? You cravens lost sleep over this? How appalling. How did you ever get through it? (expletives deleted)

  • Suhayl Saadi

    Ruth, Roderick, Craig, good on you all for openly challenging the hard state from whose machine emanates eternal war. Beacons, amidst the darkness and exemplars of the human spirit.

  • Jon

    I wonder, Craig: if a proper enquiry is convened, would the members have access to the uncensored documents? I would imagine they would have the security clearance requirement waived for the purposes of their enquiry?

    Agree with Suhayl regarding the censorship – would the fair-minded reader’s response be +worse+ if it were not censored? I am inclined to think not – cynicism tends to rule the day.

  • Ingo

    Listening to Jack Straw today, the man who had an affadavit served against him and his campaigns manager for treating people during his ,sic, re -election, going on about how the Tory’s are soft on crime, had me runni’n for the bathroom.

    Jack the torture master general has been elected by deceiving and palying up the Black Burn electorate for 31 years, him and his dog Patel just can’t do enough of the dirty tricks and the Electoral commission doesn’t give a figs arse.

    He’s a fake and just as our rewsident stick shaker Larry, has no spine left, may he fall on a 7.62 sword one day.

  • Craig

    It is interesting that the trolls can’t engage with this evidence. I just deleted a standard Larry totally irrelevant comment about 9/11. If Larry wants to comment on the above evidence, he is very welcome.

  • Anonymous

    “It’s the ten thousand holes we put in every bag of Telno that lets the flavour flood out”

  • somebody

    I noticed that. He/she/it has just put another similar on the next post. Like a rubber ball – keeps bouncing back.

  • Malcolm Pryce

    ‘It is interesting that the trolls can’t engage with this evidence…’

    It might just depend on who’s working the Larry shift at that particular time.

    Some Larrys are clearly intelligent and speak from the heart; others are obviously doing the equivalent of flipping burgers. You know, being Larry, it’s just a job…

  • Nomad

    Interesting, where’s Larry Crazy from St Louis gone? I bet he found a job!

  • Richard Robinson

    Given that there are several people faking the ‘Larry’ name, how do we tell which are the real fakes and which are the fake fakes ?

    And, really, why do we bother ?

    Take 1: All he’s got is an exceptionally articulate rendition of a spoilt-brat temper tantrum – “You’re all horrible and I hate you all, I’ll make you suffer for the chip on my shoulder”. Better command of invective (sometimes) than an 11-year-old, but what more ? Nothing, I humbly suggest.

    But remember, “In cyberspace, no-one can bite your shins”. He’s got nothing other people don’t give him.

    Take 2: If – by some strange reason of irresponsible use of tax-payers’ money – he is being paid for it (with a nod, yet again, to Occam’s razor), it would be important not to create a market for such behaviour.

  • Mark Golding - Children of Iraq

    Thank-you anon. for that link.

    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 of course antonymous to ‘The Sun’ and aimed at the newly-literate “lower-middle class market resulting from mass education.”

    Recent stories like, “How MI5 bugged 10 Downing Street” and a number of front page stories describing the highly likely ‘cover-up’ of the death of David Kelly by the Blair government has fostered an interest in the publishers and owner(s) of this middle England newspaper.

    Curiously the long serving editor, Paul Dacre was a good friend and supporter of Gordon Brown, who like me, penetrated his grumbling exterior to reveal a certain emotional kindness, once describing Brown as “touched by the mantle of greatness”.

    Dacre criticised Blair throughout his premiership and again like me felt let-down by Brown’s perceived sinister loyalty to Blair and his ‘toe the line’ support for the Iraq war.

    I still personally believe and have some evidence to suggest that Brown was severely shocked by the details of David Kelly’s untoward death and was himself a man ‘leant on’ by the ‘dark actors’ of the British establishment; a complete family man, Brown chose to comply and has now disappeared from view.

    Paul Dacre had reservations about the sincerity of Cameron believing a ‘lack of substance’ and a ‘PR man’ of the elite which agrees with my long held view, although I go farther and believe he belongs to the intelligence community. The Mail’s owner, Lord Rothermere, who supports Cameron, had let it be known that the paper should shift its position ?” despite Dacre previously being given total editorial freedom. Rothermere and the Tory leader are the same age and are close politically.

    I suspect Paul is now trying to penetrate the shroud of secrecy that hides aspects of government/SIS interaction, enabling a public window that has been closed for far too long.

    The Mail has much more for us to learn.

  • Richard Robinson

    “Protection of the CIA appears to be the primary aim of the censor”.

    That seemed to be the point of the Binyam Mohammed High Court case, too, the talk about how the US would drop the UKUSA ‘intelligence’ agreement if Things were said in public ?

  • Anonymous

    Mark Golding – Children of Iraq: The Mail can often sparkle like gold glitter. But it is fools gold that you see, most of the time. The Mail is a far right wing paper at the end of the day (as they all are) remember that.

  • Clark

    Mark Golding,

    interesting post. There are often references on this blog to “The Security Services”, as if we’re talking about a monolithic organisation. I suspect that this is incorrect. From the little I know (remembered from “Spycatcher”, mostly) the SIS work on the principle of “indoctrination” for specific cases, so that secrecy prevails even between members of the same organisation. Spycatcher also describes factions within these services and inter-departmental rivalry, members being loyal to one or another senior figure. And of course there is the matter of penetration, which these days could include commercial concerns as much as other countries.

    The basic problem may be the very principle of secrecy itself. The cover of secrecy enables factions to proliferate, with no one knowing exactly who represents what.

    There could well be factions operating outside of official policy, and yet protected by the systems of secrecy within these services. Some parts of the service may have an idea about what others are up to, and disapprove – Peter Wright felt very uneasy about the plot to bring down Wilson’s government, and about the ‘old boy network’ of the Director General, who Wright believed was a Russian spy.

    This sort of thing could have some bearing upon what you are finding re: Dacre and the Daily Mail.

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