Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Craig & the bloggers vs. the FCO

I was going to post about this story today, but Craig's linked it, ( police report - foreign policy helped make UK a target) so please go and see him and his commenters instead. Craig Murray, deserves your support generally, and now particularly, as the British government are threatening him with an injunction for publishing an expose of what happened when he was the Ambassador to Uzbekistan and was asked to turn a blind eye to torture. Not-quite-all is revealed in his book, Murder in Samarkand, and the pieces he was forced to remove have been published on his blog.

He is being told to take them down. He is refusing, and bloggers, led by Ringverse at Blairwatch are supporting him by publishing them and linking. Go look, go link, go leave a supportive comment and so help to cherish freedom of the press and freedom of information. Even if it is embarassing to those in power, and their American friends.

Final word from Craig...

''I am sorry to trouble you, but believe that we now face a threat both to the Web and to Freedom of Information in the UK which must be challenged.The British government is arguing that government documents, even if released under the Freedom of Information Act or Data Protection Act, cannot be published, on the web or elsewhere, as they remain Crown Copyright.They have required me to remove documents from my website on that basis, under threat of legal action - see the attached letter from the Treasury solicitors.If you think about it for a moment, the government could thus cancel out almost the whole purpose of the Freedom of Information Act; information released would be just for the private use of an individual. Newspapers - or bloggers - could not publish it in any detail.
If accepted, this extraordinary use of copyright could give the government completely arbitrary power to keep literally everything - everything - produced by government a secret for a hundred years.It is yet another assault on civil liberty by the Blair government, and in it's potential impact one of the most monstrous.
If the media do not react to this, they will lose the ability to report in any detail material released under the Freedom of Information Act.The documents in question are the supporting evidence for my book, Murder in Samarkand, which has just been released. The government continues to claim my story is untrue. There is one important advance in all this. Up until now the government refused to acknowledge the documents were authentic. Now Buttrill's letter specifically acknowledges all of the documents and claims copyright over them.Some of these documents have already been published widely on the web, particularly the "Tashkent telegrams" on CIA and MI6 use of intelligence obtained under torture. Those are now admitted as authentic, for the first time.Some are new to the web. Perhaps the most important is the chart of the changes the British Government insisted be made to the book.These are extremely revealing for what they admit to be true - for example, only minor changes are requested in the key meeting between senior officials on the legality of using intelligence from torture, at which it was confirmed that this is US and UK policy.Perhaps still more revealing is the insistence on removal of the assertion that "Colin Powell knowingly lied" when he claimed that bombs in Tashkent were the work of al-Qaida. The British government insisted on removal not because it was untrue - as detailed in the book, they know full well it is true - but because it would "Damage UK-US relations".The changes requested were made in the book, because my publisher would not publish without. That is why the truth needs to be out there on the web.It is on the face of it very strange that the British Government is going after me over the Copyright Act and not the Official Secrets Act. The answer is simple - under the Copyright Act there is no jury. A jury would never convict for campaigning against torture, and be most unlikely to accept that documents released cannot be published.The table of changes requested by the government is not even a classified document in the first place. But a single judge may be more malleable - John Reid has put a huge effort lately into browbeating judges over anything connected to the so-called War on Terror.As the government know very well I have no money to pay a large, or even small fine, they can get the book and documents banned and me in jail without having to convince any jury of pesky citizens.Finally, the government made plain to parliament that it would act against the book itself if it was published. As it only came out on Friday, no injunction yet but it could happen any time. So if you are interested in getting it, buy now and beat the injunctions!Many Thanks,
Craig Murray''
And here's the documents, hosted outside of the UK by Dahr Jamail


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