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Saturday, December 31, 2005
Story hits the mainstream...Finally!
Ex-Envoy Says Britain Used Coerced Intel
By SUE LEEMAN, Associated Press Writer1 hour, 45 minutes ago A former British ambassador has published government documents he says prove that Britain knowingly received intelligence extracted under torture from prisoners in Uzbekistan. Craig Murray, who was removed as ambassador to Uzbekistan after going public about his concerns, defied a Foreign Office ban to publish the internal memos on his Web site Friday. The documents include memos to Foreign Office chiefs in which Murray expressed his concern over the use of "torture material."
In one memo, Murray said he was told by Foreign Office legal adviser Sir Michael Wood that it was not illegal to use information acquired by torture, except in legal proceedings. Intelligence officer Matthew Kydd had also told him the intelligence services sometimes found such material "very useful indeed, with a direct bearing on the war on terror," he said.
Murray said that even after he alerted his bosses to his concerns, they continued to use material allegedly gained under torture "on the grounds that the UK could not prove that individual detainees were tortured to extract information."
"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 U.N. convention, was not employed," he wrote.
A Foreign Office spokesman said Friday that while Britain condemns the use of torture, it would be "irresponsible" for the intelligence services to reject out of hand information which might protect British citizens from a terror attack. The spokesman spoke on condition of anonymity in keeping with government policy.
Uzbekistan has put more than 6,000 political prisoners in squalid jails where dozens of people have reportedly died of torture over the past several years, according to rights groups. But the central Asian country emerged as a key U.S. ally after the Sept. 11 attacks in the United States, and had hosted hundreds of American troops supporting operations in neighboring Afghanistan until last month.
Hard-line President Islam Karimov had ordered the U.S. troops to leave in July after Washington joined international condemnation of a bloody government crackdown in the eastern city of Andijan that human rights groups say killed hundreds of civilians.