Sting’s Defence


Sting and the Glamorous Dictator’s Daughter Gulnara Karimova

Sting has come out with a spirited defence of his visit to Tashkent as the guest of Karimov’s daughter:

‘I supported wholeheartedly the cultural boycott of South Africa under the apartheid regime because it was a special case and specifically targeted the younger demographic of the ruling white middle class.

‘I am well aware of the Uzbek president’s appalling reputation in the field of human rights as well as the environment. I made the decision to play there in spite of that.

‘I have come to believe that cultural boycotts are not only pointless gestures, they are counter-productive, where proscribed states are further robbed of the open commerce of ideas and art and as a result become even more closed, paranoid and insular.

‘I seriously doubt whether the President of Uzbekistan cares in the slightest whether artists like myself come to play in his

But this really is transparent bollocks. He did not take a guitar and jam around the parks of Tashkent. He got paid over a million pounds to play an event specifically designed to glorify a barbarous regime. Is the man completely mad?

Why does he think it was worth over a million quid to the regime to hear him warble a few notes?

I agree with him that cultural isolation does not help. I am often asked about the morality of going to Uzbekistan, and I always answer – go, mix with ordinary people, tell them about other ways of life, avoid state owned establishments and official tours. What Sting did was the opposite. To invoke Unicef as a cover, sat next to a woman who has made hundreds of millions from state forced child labour in the cotton fields, is pretty sick.

Next time you see Sumner on television warbling on about his love for the rain forest, switch him off.


A commenter suggested a boycott of Sting’s music. I was going to agree, but on reflection it would take an enormous effort to track down someone who listens to it, before we could ask them to stop.

Evidently Sting could do with listening to David Tennant in Murder in Samarkand:

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Umida Akhmedova Jailed


This photo evokes so much of what I love about Uzbekistan and its people. Unfortunately it is not the officially approved image of Gulnara Karimova’s shiny new conference centres and resorts. The photographer, Umida Akhmedova, has therefore been charged with “Defaming Uzbekistan”. It carries a potential 6 year prison sentence.

The offence cited is publishing these photographs,

and making a short documentary film critical of the traditional custom that girls have to prove their virginity on their wedding day.

I am particularly touched by Umida’s plight, because it was on precisely the same charge that the 63 year old Mrs Avazova was jailed after passing to me photographs of her dissident son, who had been boiled alive in Jaslyk prison.

To help the campaign for Umida and other political prisoners in Uzbekistan, please contact Amnesty International.

Obama’s envoy Richard Holbrooke is currently visiting Tashkent to agree new military cooperation agreements between the Karimov regime and the USA.

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That Got Their Attention Pretty Quick

From my statcounter log:

15 Nov 22:02:18 Safari 4.0.3 1280×1024 Arlington Virginia United States ( [Label IP Address]

Craig Murray – Corrupt Bloggers Wanted By US Military To Propagandise for Karimov Dictatorship I. BELK%22&start=10&sa=N

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Corrupt Bloggers Wanted By US Military To Propagandise for Karimov Dictatorship

(With thanks again to the excellent Ken Silverstein),

Gulnara Karimova is offering all expenses paid luxury junkets to Tashkent, plus a thousand dollars cash in the pocket, to US bloggers willing to blog about Uzbekistan without mentioning torture, massacre, dictatorship, slavery or environmental destruction.

As Obama has entered into a renewed military cooperation with Karimov, with military transit agreements already in place and an airbase agreement pending, it is interesting to note the Washington consultants organising this for Gulnara. It is a firm called Atlas International

Partners. The firm has three Principals. Here is an extract from the biography of each. What do their backgrounds have in common?:

Mr. Belk also assembled critical national security briefings in support of the President of the United States, the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and served as a biological weapons expert for the United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM) in Iraq in 1998. Mr. Belk’s government service also included a tour in the White House as a special assistant for the Office of the Counsel to the President

Mr. Chichester has been a member of the U.S. Army Chief of Staff’s Eisenhower National Security Series Working Group and the Council on Foreign Relations?”where he co-chaired the Washington Term Member Advisory Committee. He is currently a member of the International Institute for Strategic Studies

Ryung Suh received a BS in Chemistry from the United States Military Academy and completed his medical and graduate studies at Georgetown University. He holds faculty research and teaching appointments at Georgetown University School of Medicine, the School of Nursing and Health Studies, and the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences and serves as Senior Fellow at NORC at the University of Chicago.

Interesting too that Atlas feel quite abe to write:

I understand that Ms. Karimova is reviewing the proposal personally and will get back to us within the next 24 hours, which would be necessary to get your visa processed on Friday. Our feeling is that she is likely to give us a green light, so I am assembling a team of bloggers now


Without any apparent diffidence that their client is still subject to an outstanding New Jersey arrest warrant, which presumably is enforceable throughout the States as it has prevented her from travelling there for years. Are there not any laws about rendering assistance to fugitives from justice?

We wait to see which US bloggers start to write about the wonders of the Karimov regime. I presume that some of the pro-Obama blogs will feel this is a duty they can undertake in support of the administration’s’ new pro-Karimov position.

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The Wall Did Not Fall For Everyone

I have been watching the various celebrations of the fall of the Berlin Wall from the unusual vantage point of Accra. I have no mixed feelings over the fall of Soviet communist control over Europe. I don’t think Reagan’s use of the phrase “Evil empire” was wrong. The Americans have of course embarked on a new enthusiasm for their own evil empire since.

The euphoria of the spread of freedom seemwd to usher in an era of hope when I was 30. I still recall the images of the people on top of the Berlin wall, of Mandela’s walk from jail, and of the puzzled look on the face of Ceaucescu as he realised the crowd was booing him. It was a time to lift the heart.

But having worked in Poland’s transition from Communism in the mid 1990’s, I also know that much of Eastern Europe “lost” a generation of then middle aged workers who could not adjust from the communist system, and there was terrible economic hardship alongside the yuppie glitz. Life expectancy plummeted. It is not for nothing that Walesa and Gorbachev, who were the star guests in Berlin now, plunged to depths of political unpopularity in their own countries that make Gordon Brown seem adored.

But my main thought is that people must realise that the wall did not come down for everybody. Uzbekistan is still a totalitarian state and still does indeed lock its people in. Uzbeks still need an exit visa to leave – and only three weeks ago I was contacted over the most recent case of an Uzbek resident in the UK, who had been arrested travelling in Russia and deported back to Tashkent because they had no valid Uzbek exit visa.

Russia, Kazakhstan, Belarus and even the Ukraine have all with increasing frequency been deporting Uzbeks – who were legally in those countries – back to Tashkent, very often because their Uzbek exit visas expired, or because they were political dissidents wanted by the Uzbek authorities.

The original evil empire is not quite dead yet. The wall did not fall for everybody.

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We Can Sell Arms To Karimov Again

Virtuallu unnoticed, last week’s EU summit lifted the arms embargo and travel ban on the murderous Karimov regime in Uzbekistan. So now British arms manufacturers can sell arms for Karimov to use against his people again. Indeed, British troops may return to Uzbekistan to teach Karimov’s thugs “Marksmanship”, as they did before the Andijan massacre which killed over 700 peaceful demonstrators in 2005.

There have been no improvements in human rights in Uzbekistan. There remains no freedom of speech, assembly, movement or religion. Thousands of political prisoners slave in the gulags, children are forced into the fields by soldiers to pick the cotton. Thousands still suffer hideous torture every year. But the UK hails “Dialogue” with the Karimov regime on human rights as a reason to end the arms embargo. Germany and Milliband led the internal EU lobbying for Karimov.

In March the Obama administration signed a new agreement with Karimov for transit of supplies to Afghanistan, and negotiations are virtually complete for a new US airbase in Uzbekistan. Germany remains focused entirely on the access to Central Asian gas via Gazprom and the Nordstream project. The British remain keen to maintain “Security cooperation” with the unspeakable Uzbek security services.

The politicians do it because the media and public do not seem to care, so they think they can get away with it. So far, they are right. With Karzai exposed for the gangster he is and a new alliance with Karimov, the sickness of our Central Asian policy is now stark.

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Blears Lies Exposed: Ikram Yakubov Feature on Newsnight

For those who missed it,the featue on Ikram is here, though I suspect only for today.

It is worth watching, particularly for confirmation that the Tashkent “bombs” were false flag incidents – which was a major point in my time in Tashkent. My investigation which established this is covered at length in Murder in Samarkand. Nonetheless both the British and US have continued to use these fake al-Qaida linked bombings to justify our sypport for Karimov.

This is important, as they were knowingly lying, the Joint Terrorism Assessment Centre (JTAC) having officially accepted my analysis of events, and informed me so by diplomatic telegram to Tashkent. Hazel Blears (unsurprisingly) was liar in chief:

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Newsnight Investigation of Uzbek Defector

BBC 2 Newsnight have been working for three months now on the claims of Uzbek security service defector Ikram Yakubov.

I think finally the piece will be broadcast tonight, although there have been several postponements already. For me Yakubov’s most interesting evidence is that he accompanied a CIA man to an interrogation, and the CIA man was actually in the room during the torture of a detainee, rather than just handing over questions to the Uzbeks.

But I think the Newsnight piece may be focusing on the probable murder by Karimov of Richard Conroy, the British acting Head of the UN mission in Uzbekistan. I cover this at length in Murder in Samarkand, but could not prove what informants were telling me. Yakubov claims to have knowledge from inside the security services.

I was interviewed by Newsnight for the piece, over a month ago. I presume some of this will be included. It remains a remarkable fact that Yakubov has not been debriefed by MI6, because the Uzbek security services are regarded as allies by the UK. The last thing the government wants is any official record of CIA involvement in torture (the intelligence from which will have been shared with MI6), or of Karimov’s ivolvement in the Andijan massacre, or in the death of Richard Conroy.

Yakubov has been granted political asylum in the UK, but last week he telephoned me to say he was being turfed out of his government provided accommodation and is now homeless.

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The Clinton Effect

Bill Clinton is to be congratulated on getting the two US journalists released from North Korea. The downside, of propaganda photos for Kim-Jong-Il, is worth it.

For British people, there is a contrast with our own government’s longstanding indifferent attitude to the plight of British prisoners and hostages abroad. I recall particularly the British men who were falsely imprisoned and tortured into confession by the Saudi government, which was seeking to cover up Islamic extremist bombings. The UK not only did not help them, but acted to protect their Saudi torturers against reprisals.

But I am also reminded of other photos of Clinton with a very dubious character which appeared recently.


Just why Clinton is posing with the appalling Gulnara Karimova is unclear. But it might well relate to the continued efforts by the Obama administration to improve relations with President Karimov of Uzbekistan. As reported here in March, the US has signed new treaties with Uzbekistan, on use of the country for land transit to US forces in Afghanistan.

President Obama’s Central Asian policy will prove the disaster which undermines the achievements of his administration. The surge in Afghanistan will not bring military victory, and rhe radicalisation in Pakistan increasingly spreads into urban populations. To compound this, Obama is now repeating Bush’s error of backing the vicious regimes of Soviet elites in the “Stans”

The long term evils of the drive for short term military gain in Afghanistan will haunt the West for generations.

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Two Aspects Of Barca Colours

As Manchester United prepare to face Barcelona in the Champions League Final, here are two aspects of the Barca colours.


Thierry Henry in Barca Colours


Muzaffar Avazov in Barca colours

Muzaffar Avazov is one of two dissidents who were boiled alive by the Uzbek dictator Islam Karimov. I investigated the case as British Ambassador with the assistance of the now chief pathologist of the UK. There is no doubt that death was caused by immersion in boiling liquid, while Avazov was a prisoner in Karimov’s notorious Jaslyk gulag. Karimov has over 10,000 political prisoners.

Uzbekistan is perhaps the most brutal dictaotrship in the world, but Barcelona receive $10 million a year to promote the Karimov regime and the propaganda “Show club” owned by the President’s daughter.

Anyone supporting Barcelona next week is supporting fascism.

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Spanish Fascists Barca Through to Final

Barcelona are through to the Champions League final tonight after beating Chelsea. They were pretty fortunate, with Chelse having four very good penalty shouts, at least two of which looked 100% certain (and I am neither a Chelsea fan, nor English). That outweighed Barca being hard done by in the sending off.

But what is really disgusting is Barcelona’s relationship with the Karimov regime of Uzbekistan, one of the world’s most vicious dictatorships.

For selling itself as a propaganda tool for a fascist regime founded on child slavery, Barca has disgraced itself and football.

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Hazel Blears Lies Again

Hazel Blears is the epitome of New Labour populism. She is the friendly face of outflanking the BNP to the Right. Portrayed as a bouncy little “no-nonsense” politician, “no-nonsense” and “common-sense” are code for “very very right wing indeed”.

In this video interview with George Monbiot, she reminds me irresistibly of Gracie Fields, if Grace Fields were campaigning for Oswald Mosley:

“‘Ee, Ducks, don’t you worry about that Mr Hitler, e’ll do alright. Just you think about the ordinary working folk here in’t mill. That’s what I call decent politics, like.”

Except that the Blears act is very thin indeed. Seven minutes in to the Monbiot video, he challenges her over New Labour support for the evil “President” Karimov of Uzbekistan. Blears pretends hardly to have heard of Karimov, and as Monbiot presses, she makes out that she knows nothing about Uzbekistan and is only interested in “Jobs and education for the people here in Salford”.

But Blears has played a key role in New Labour’s support for Karimov. In October 2005 Hazel Blears told the House of Commons that the Islamic Jihad Union had been responsible for bomb attacks in Tashkent in March 2004. In fact, there were no bombs in Tashkent in 2004. I was able personally to inspect each of the alleged bomb sites within hours – and in one case minutes – of the alleged explosions, and there were no bombs.

A very full description is given on pages 325 to 340 of Murder in Samarkand.

The purpose of the false bombing campaign was to provide cover for the shooting dead of several dozen dissidents, and more importantly to establish a new black ops “terror” group, the “Islamic Jihad Union”. This group, never heard of before, was immediately blamed by the Uzbek government for the “bombs”.

In fact the Islamic Jihad Union was a creation of the Uzbek and German security services, with CIA involvement. The “bombs” were timed for the day a senior level delegation of German MPs and MEPs were in Tashkent. The motive behind creating the “Islamic Jihad Union” was to firm up political support for the controversial German deployment of troops in Afghanistan, supported by the German airbase at Termez in Uzbekistan, which is still operating.

German security services have since arranged a series of terror scares in Germany over pretended planned bombing campaigns by the “Uzbek Islamic Jihad Union” inside Germany, to continue to whip up German public support for their alliance with the odious Karimov.

Blears specifically told the House of Commons that the Islamic Jihad Union was reponsible for the “bombs” in Uzbekistan, and then defended this in subsequent debate against sceptical MPs.

For her to pretend to Monbiot that she has no idea what he is talking about on Uzbekistan, is sickening. The woman has “Fake” stamped all the way through her.

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Hillary and Pakistan

I will go back out to Pakistan again later this year. In the meantime I have been talking to Pakistani friends and to journalists and others based in Pakistan, before trying to give a few considered thoughts on Hillary Clinton’s extraordinary and calculated remarks on Wednesday about the “mortal threat” to the USA posed by Pakistan.

The first and most obvious point is that, since Obama and Hillary have been in office, the United States has killed over 200 Pakistani civilians in Pakistan. Pakistanis have killed no United States civilians in the United States. For Hillary to call Pakistan a mortal threat is therefore somewhat rich.

The evidence is incontrovertible that missile strikes from aerial drones are a particularly indiscriminate way of killing. Very often the justification of the attacks is a desire to assassinate a particular indivdual; but the average number killed in each strike in Pakistan is 19. The majority of those killed have been women and children.

It should be self-evident that these brutal attacks will stoke resentment of the US in Pakistan. They are helping to create the fundamentalism which Hillary claims horrifies her. Which leads me to wonder, as I have wondered so often in the “War on Terror”, whether apparently brutish action by the United States is in fact intended to provoke a reaction.

The attacks not only stoke outrage, but are a blow to the self-esteeem of the average Pakistani and fuel contempt for the Pakistani government which permits the United States to attack its territory and kill its women and children. The truth is that the spread of the Pakistani “Taliban”, which Clinton so deplores, is not achieved through military strength but through popular sympathy.

One of the most potent things the Pakistani government could do to prevent the leeching of support towards Islamic extremists, would be to forbid the United States absolutely to carry out any more bombing operations in Pakistan, with the threat of physical resistance. That would damage the cause of the Islamic fundamentalists in Pakistan much more effectively than bombing ever will.

I share the Clinton viewpoint that theocratic government is, in itself, a bad thing. But it is also important to consider the motivation behind the increasing support for Islamism – manifested in the issue of sharia law – among ordinary Pakistanis. We very seldom hear their voices. The very pleasant and highly educated Pakistani commentators from all sides we hear on the mainstream media, are a tiny fraction of the population.

I strongly supported the reinstatement of the judges sacked by General Musharraff, but these middle class concerns mean nothing to the 90% of the Pakistani population who live on under $350 a year. They have no access to justice at all and are subject to oppression by an arbitrary and extremely corrupt police, backed by corrupt courts. The appeal of sharia law is that the westernised system has corrupted and failed the poor. Add to that an economy going backwards while neighbouring India has surged forward. It is impossible to tackle corruption under the President who is its walking embodiment, but without radical reform the theocratic movement is going to continue to make ground – literally. Clinton’s harsh words and bombs will do the opposite of help.

On 12 April the US signed a new military agreement with Islam Karimov, the Butcher of Tashkent, for supply of US forces in Afghanistan through Uzbekistan – thus conclusively killing any hope that the Obama/Clinton administration would prioritise human rights in foreign policy. The increase of US forces in Afghanistan is in progress. The ultimate goal remains the revival of the Unocal plan for a pipeline over Afghanistan and through Pakistan to bring out Central Asia’s massive hydrocarbon resources to the sea. But the actual result of US action throughout Central Asia and of their support of deeply corrupt regimes in Uzbekistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan, continues to be the growth of fundamentalist Islam. A radical change of US policy is needed. Instead, like a desperate gambler, Hillary is upping the ante.

Either the United States is preparing the ground for ultimate invasion of Pakistan, or it is behaving very stupidly indeed.

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Amnesty International

There is a story in yesterday’s Sunday Herald about one Scottish Amnesty International activist’s involvement in securing the release of Saidzhakon Zainabitdinov, an Uzbek political prisoner. I have been a guest in Saidzhakon’s home, and he is a good and brave man.

I am a fan of Amnesty International.

I have seen at the sharp end how their simple methodology really can save lives. The arrival on the prison fax machine of letters from abroad about a named prisoner really can save him or her from torture and death. The fear that people are watching, that perhaps one day there is a possibility of retribution, is put into the mind of officials and guards. As the fax reaches a minister’s desk or a letter is opened in his office, all politicians are vain enough to have some concern for their international image.

Every day Amnesty’s members make the world a better place in their old-fashioned, caring way. So I salute Angus McEwan of Sutherland, and thousands more like him.

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Sky News, “First For Faking News”

Quite interesting filming in Sky News on the situation in Pakistan, including an interview with President Asif Ali Zirdari, in which his slow-witted performance indicates why he so rarely gives them. The Pakistanis, Italians and Israelis are quite happy to elect crooks to lead the nation. The rest of us tend only to find out we have elected crooks after the event.

But Sky of course go on to hype the “Terrorist threat in the UK”, and mar their report by faking a discussion among “Community and business leaders in Rochdale” into which they introduce a spokesman for the Sufi Muslim Council, attempting to pass him off as a representative of the Rochdale community. This is quite simply fake journalism. Rafiq is now Rochdale based – which I strongly suspect is why Sky News chose Rochdale – but his accent and above all his jargon and use of language are totally different from the others, and the body language of the others when he talks shows he is not one of them.

The Sufi Muslim Council is a propaganda initiative of the Uzbek government of President Karimov and US Neocon foundations, embraced in this country by the Blairites and Blearsites. It had its genesis in cooperation between the CIA, German and Uzbek security services. It is the counterpart of a “Black” organisation the same security services set up, the Islamic Jihad Union. The Islamic Jihad Union was blamed for faked “Bombings” in Tashkent and remains a cover for agent provocateur operations, particularly in Germany.

Despite government promotion, and almost unlimited access to funds enabling it to start up its own TV channel,

the Sufi Muslim Council has had no success in attaining a mass membership in the UK, where its adulation of the Karimov regime is well understood. It represents nobody in Rochdale and Sky’s use of it to direct a conversation of the Rochdale community is highly reprehensible fake journalism.

99% of Britain’s Sufi Muslims have no connection to the Sufi Muslim Council.

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Unicef Must Break Ties With Child Slavery Supporters Barcelona FC

Kudos to for an excellent article on the disgusting decision by Barcelona FC to accept sackloads of cash to promote Islam Karimov, the world’s most vicious dictator.

Pitch invasion were building on an article in the Observer by Kevin O’Flynn, who is almost the only sports journalist who ever tackles the seamy underside of the beautiful game.

Kevin O’Flynn’s reckoning of salaries in Uzbekistan as £25 a week is an official statistic. Some urban folk get that. Most of the population live on much, much less. For this poor and terrorised state to be spending hundreds of millions of pounds of money stolen from the Uzbek people on building a glamour football club to glorify the President’s daughter, is obscene in the extreme.

High among the many horrors of the Karimov regime is the mass use of child slavery to pick the State – ie Karimov family – owned cotton crop. Hundreds of thousands of children are forced into the cotton fields for weeks in conditions that mirror those of black slaves in the USA in the 19th century. Uzbekistan is the second largest exporter of cotton in the world.

The situation is so appalling that even Walmart and Tesco have joined a voluntary private sector boycott in the US and UK of all items containing Uzbek cotton.

Barcelona should be ashamed of the collaboration with Karimov. They carry the Unicef logo on their shirts. The irony of Unicef being advertised on a team that is paid to glorify the leader of the world’s largest system of child slavery, is staggering.

Unicef must break their ties with Barcelona. Now.

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Evidence of Karimov’s Crimes – and CIA Participation

Ikram Yakubov, the Uzbek security service defector, has given his first UK media interview to the first class journalist Neil Mackay of the Sunday Herald.

Ikram’s testimony is very important, particularly that he personally witnessed a CIA officer present at the torture of Islamic suspects. Remember, the official position of the UK government remains that I was making it all up. They still officially deny the CIA was involved in torture in Uzbekistan, or that we knew about extraordinary rendition. Ikram Yakubov’s testimony makes those government lies still harder to maintain. It would be nice to believe that one day there may be a serious parliamentary inquiry into the lies.

THE CIA SENT ITS agents into Uzbekistan torture chambers to observe the abuse of alleged Islamic terrorists, acc-ording to a dissident member of the Uzbek security services who is now seeking political asylum in the UK after fleeing Tashkent.

Ikrom Yakubov, a former major in the National Security Service (SNB), accused the CIA of involvement in torture sessions in the central Asian republic in an exclusive interview with the Sunday Herald, during which he made a series of startling claims. These include claims that: l Britain’s Richard Conroy, the UN’s co-ordinator in Uzbekistan, was assassinated on the orders of Islam Karimov, the president of Uzbekistan. Karimov has been described as one of the world’s worst dictators and his rule, since 1991, has been characterised by allegations of torture (including claims that victims were boiled alive), media control, fake elections and brutality against human rights organisations and pro-democracy activists; l a series of bomb attacks in the capital, Tashkent, in March 2004 were organised by the SNB in order to tighten Karimov’s dictatorial rule and ramp up the threat from Islamic terror groups; l Karimov ordered the notorious Andijan massacre in May 2005, when Uzbek security forces fired on protesters, killing anything up to 1500 people; l Karimov’s regime routinely framed innocent Muslims on charges of involvement in Islamist terror and invented bogus terror threats to maintain his grip on the country, and l the CIA used a secret detention facility in Uzbekistan where suspects in the “war on terror” were taken from around the world to be tortured by SNB interrogators.

It is also worth remembering that the Tashkent bombings – which as Ambassador I investigated in detail and reported that the Uzbek government story was fake – were used by British ministers in parliament in justification of their anti-terror legislation.

I think I may be forgiven for publishing again in this context what was to be the last telegram of my diplomatic career (it led to my sacking)





OF 220939 JULY 04




1. We receive intelligence obtained under torture from the Uzbek intelligence services, via the US. We should stop. It is bad information anyway. Tortured dupes are forced to sign up to confessions showing what the Uzbek government wants the US and UK to believe, that they and we are fighting the same war against terror.

2. I gather a recent London interdepartmental meeting considered the question and decided to continue to receive the material. This is morally, legally and practically wrong. It exposes as hypocritical our post Abu Ghraib pronouncements and fatally undermines our moral standing. It obviates my efforts to get the Uzbek government to stop torture they are fully aware our intelligence community laps up the results.

3. We should cease all co-operation with the Uzbek Security Services they are beyond the pale. We indeed need to establish an SIS presence here, but not as in a friendly state.


4. In the period December 2002 to March 2003 I raised several times the issue of intelligence material from the Uzbek security services which was obtained under torture and passed to us via the CIA. I queried the legality, efficacy and morality of the practice.

5. I was summoned to the UK for a meeting on 8 March 2003. Michael Wood gave his legal opinion that it was not illegal to obtain and to use intelligence acquired by torture. He said the only legal limitation on its use was that it could not be used in legal proceedings, under Article 15 of the UN Convention on Torture.

6. On behalf of the intelligence services, Matthew Kydd said that they found some of the material very useful indeed with a direct bearing on the war on terror. Linda Duffield said that she had been asked to assure me that my qualms of conscience were respected and understood.

7. Sir Michael Jay’s circular of 26 May stated that there was a reporting obligation on us to report torture by allies (and I have been instructed to refer to Uzbekistan as such in the context of the war on terror). You, Sir, have made a number of striking, and I believe heartfelt, condemnations of torture in the last few weeks. I had in the light of this decided to return to this question and to highlight an apparent contradiction in our policy. I had intimated as much to the Head of Eastern Department.

8. I was therefore somewhat surprised to hear that without informing me of the meeting, or since informing me of the result of the meeting, a meeting was convened in the FCO at the level of Heads of Department and above, precisely to consider the question of the receipt of Uzbek intelligence material obtained under torture. As the office knew, I was in London at the time and perfectly able to attend the meeting. I still have only gleaned that it happened.

9. I understand that the meeting decided to continue to obtain the Uzbek torture material. I understand that the principal argument deployed was that the intelligence material disguises the precise source, ie it does not ordinarily reveal the name of the individual who is tortured. Indeed this is true ‘ the material is marked with a euphemism such as “From detainee debriefing.” The argument runs that if the individual is not named, we cannot prove that he was tortured.

10. I will not attempt to hide my utter contempt for such casuistry, nor my shame that I work in and organisation where colleagues would resort to it to justify torture. I have dealt with hundreds of individual cases of political or religious prisoners in Uzbekistan, and I have met with very few where torture, as defined in the UN convention, was not employed. When my then DHM raised the question with the CIA head of station 15 months ago, he readily acknowledged torture was deployed in obtaining intelligence. I do not think there is any doubt as to the fact

11. The torture record of the Uzbek security services could hardly be more widely known. Plainly there are, at the very least, reasonable grounds for believing the material is obtained under torture. There is helpful guidance at Article 3 of the UN Convention;

“The competent authorities shall take into account all relevant considerations including, where applicable, the existence in the state concerned of a consistent pattern of gross, flagrant or mass violations of human rights.” While this article forbids extradition or deportation to Uzbekistan, it is the right test for the present question also.

12. On the usefulness of the material obtained, this is irrelevant. Article 2 of the Convention, to which we are a party, could not be plainer:

“No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture.”

13. Nonetheless, I repeat that this material is useless ‘ we are selling our souls for dross. It is in fact positively harmful. It is designed to give the message the Uzbeks want the West to hear. It exaggerates the role, size, organisation and activity of the IMU and its links with Al Qaida. The aim is to convince the West that the Uzbeks are a vital cog against a common foe, that they should keep the assistance, especially military assistance, coming, and that they should mute the international criticism on human rights and economic reform.

14. I was taken aback when Matthew Kydd said this stuff was valuable. Sixteen months ago it was difficult to argue with SIS in the area of intelligence assessment. But post Butler we know, not only that they can get it wrong on even the most vital and high profile issues, but that they have a particular yen for highly coloured material which exaggerates the threat. That is precisely what the Uzbeks give them. Furthermore MI6 have no operative within a thousand miles of me and certainly no expertise that can come close to my own in making this assessment.

15. At the Khuderbegainov trial I met an old man from Andizhan. Two of his children had been tortured in front of him until he signed a confession on the family’s links with Bin Laden. Tears were streaming down his face. I have no doubt they had as much connection with Bin Laden as I do. This is the standard of the Uzbek intelligence services.

16. I have been considering Michael Wood’s legal view, which he kindly gave in writing. I cannot understand why Michael concentrated only on Article 15 of the Convention. This certainly bans the use of material obtained under torture as evidence in proceedings, but it does not state that this is the sole exclusion of the use of such material.

17. The relevant article seems to me Article 4, which talks of complicity in torture. Knowingly to receive its results appears to be at least arguable as complicity. It does not appear that being in a different country to the actual torture would preclude complicity. I talked this over in a hypothetical sense with my old friend Prof Francois Hampson, I believe an acknowledged World authority on the Convention, who said that the complicity argument and the spirit of the Convention would be likely to be winning points. I should be grateful to hear Michael’s views on this.

18. It seems to me that there are degrees of complicity and guilt, but being at one or two removes does not make us blameless. There are other factors. Plainly it was a breach of Article 3 of the Convention for the coalition to deport detainees back here from Baghram, but it has been done. That seems plainly complicit.

19. This is a difficult and dangerous part of the World. Dire and increasing poverty and harsh repression are undoubtedly turning young people here towards radical Islam. The Uzbek government are thus creating this threat, and perceived US support for Karimov strengthens anti-Western feeling. SIS ought to establish a presence here, but not as partners of the Uzbek Security Services, whose sheer brutality puts them beyond the pale.


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UN Confirms US Kills Sixty Children Among Ninety Civilians in Afghanistan

Yet another act of hideous brutality. The US is maintaining its claim to have killed “Thirty militants”. The UN, which unlike the US has actually been to the place to investigate, is confirming that the victims were sixty civilians including ninety children. Yet another notch upwards on the spiral of hate. How can anyone believe this is a solution?

“Investigations by UNAMA (United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan) found convincing evidence, based on the testimony of eyewitnesses, and others, that some 90 civilians were killed, including 60 children, 15 women and 15 men,” U.N. Special Envoy to Afghanistan Kai Eide said in a statement.”

The U.S. military has launched an investigation into the incident, after saying it was unaware of any civilians killed in what it said was a single air strike in the Shindand district of western Afghanistan on Friday.

Jets had targeted a known Taliban commander and killed 30 militants, the U.S.-led coalition said.

UNAMA sent its human rights team to the Shindand area to investigate, meeting local officials, elders and villagers.

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A Life Saved!

I can’t really afford it, but I have just bought and opened a bottle of the best bubbly I can find in Shepherds Bush. Jahongir Sidikov has phoned me to say that the Home Office has just granted him asylum. You will recall that Jahongir had to physically resist deportation from Harmondsworth Detention Centre to certain torture and near certain death in Uzbekistan.

Jahongir has no doubt, and nor do I, that the actions of readers of this blog were crucial in preventing this appalling proposed deportation. Special thanks go to the MPs you activated. Several deserve thanks, but Bob Marshall Andrews deserves a really special mention.

It is not yet clear whether the Home Office now accept as a matter of policy that it is not possible to deport dissidents into the hands of the evil Uzbek regime. That is a point you might wish to take up with your MPs.

But for now, thank you and bloody well done. I am going to get rat-arsed.

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