Memorandum submitted by Craig Murray
My name is Craig Murray. I was British Ambassador
in Uzbekistan from August 2002 to October 2004.
I had joined the Diplomatic Service in 1984 and became
a member of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Senior Management
Structure in 1998. I had held a variety of posts including Deputy
High Commissioner, Accra (1998-2001) and First Secretary Political
and Economic, Warsaw (1994-97).
I had also been head of the FCO section of the
Embargo Surveillance Sector leading up to and during the first
Gulf War, monitoring and interdicting Iraqi attempts at weapons
procurement. In consequence I had obtained security clearances
even higher than those routinely given to all executive members
of the Diplomatic Service. I had extensive experience throughout
my career of dealing with intelligence material and the intelligence
It was made plain to me in briefing in London
before initial departure for Tashkent that Uzbekistan was a key
ally in the War on Terror and to be treated as such. It was particularly
important to the USA who valued its security cooperation and its
provision of a major US airbase at Karshi-Khanabad.
As Ambassador in Uzbekistan I regularly received
intelligence material released by MI6. This material was given
to MI6 by the CIA, mostly originating from their Tashkent station.
It was normally issued to me telegraphically by MI6 at the same
time it was issued to UK ministers and officials in London.
From the start of my time as Ambassador, I was
also receiving a continual stream of information about widespread
torture of suspected political or religious dissidents in Tashkent.
This was taking place on a phenomenal scale. In early 2003 a report
by the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, in the preparation of
which my Embassy much assisted, described torture in Uzbekistan
as "routine and systemic".
The horror and staggering extent of torture
in Uzbekistan is well documented and I have been informed by the
Chair is not in the purview of the Joint Committee on Human Rights.
But what follows goes directly to the question of UK non-compliance
with the UN Convention Against Torture.
In gathering evidence from victims of torture,
we built a consistent picture of the narrative which the torturers
were seeking to validate from confessions under torture. They
sought confessions which linked domestic opposition to President
Karimov with Al-Qaida and Osama Bin Laden; they sought to exaggerate
the strength of the terrorist threat in Central Asia. People arrested
on all sorts of pretexts(I recall one involved in a dispute
over ownership of a garage plot) suddenly found themselves tortured
into confessing to membership of both the Islamic Movement of
Uzbekistan (IMU) and Al-Qaida. They were also made to confess
to attending Al-Qaida training camps in Tajikistan and Afghanistan.
In an echo of Stalin's security services from which the Uzbek
SNB had an unbroken institutional descent, they were given long
lists of names of people they had to confess were also in IMU
It became obvious to me after just a few weeks
that the CIA material from Uzbekistan was giving precisely the
same narrative being extracted by the Uzbek torturersand
that the CIA "intelligence" was giving information far
from the truth.
I was immediately concerned that British ministers
and officials were being unknowingly exposed to material derived
from torture, and therefore were acting illegally.
I asked my Deputy, Karen Moran, to call on a
senior member of the US Embassy and tell him I was concerned that
the CIA intelligence was probably derived from torture by the
Uzbek security services. Karen Moran reported back to me that
the US Embassy had replied that it probably did come from torture,
but in the War on Terror they did not view that as a problem.
In October or November of 2002 I sent the FCO
a telegram classified Top Secret and addressed specifically for
the attention of the Secretary of State. I argued that to receive
this material from torture was:
IllegalPlainly it was a breach
ImmoralTo support such despicable
practices undermined our claims to civilisation; and
ImpracticalThe material was
designed to paint a false picture.
I received no reply, so in January or February
of 2003 I sent a further telegram repeating the same points.
I was summoned back to a meeting which was held
in the FCO on 7 or 8 March 2003. Present were Linda Duffield,
Director Wider Europe; Matthew Kydd, Head Permanent Under Secretary's
Department; Sir Michael Wood, Legal Adviser.
At the start of the meeting Linda Duffield told
me that Sir Michael Jay, Permanent Under Secretary, wished me
to know that my telegrams were unwise and that these sensitive
questions were best not discussed on paper.
In the meeting, Sir Michael Wood told me that
it was not illegal for us to obtain intelligence from torture,
provided someone else did the torture. He added "I make no
comment on the moral aspect" and appeared to me to be signalling
Matthew Kydd told me that the Security Services
considered the material from the CIA in Tashkent useful. He also
argued that, as the final intelligence report issued by the security
services excludes the name of the detainee interrogated, it is
not possible to prove that torture was involved in any particular
piece of intelligence.
Linda Duffield told me that Jack Straw had discussed
this question with Sir Richard Dearlove and the policy was that,
in the War on Terror, we should not question such intelligence.
The UK/US intelligence sharing agreement stipulated that all intelligence
must be shared. Influential figures in the US believed this was
an unfair agreement as we received much more from the US than
they did from us. It was not in our interest to abandon the universality
principle and refuse categories of CIA material.
It was agreed that Sir Michael Wood's view that
it was not illegal to receive intelligence from torture would
be put in writing. I attach a copy of his letter of 13 March 2003.
This meeting was minuted. I have seen the minute,
which is classified Top Secret. On the top copy is a manuscript
note giving Jack Straw's views. It is entirely plain from this
note that this torture policy was under his personal direction.
I returned to Tashkent. In May 2003, during
a visit to Tashkent by my line manager, Simon Butt, he told me
I was viewed in London as "unpatriotic". This hurt me
enormously as I had served my country with great enthusiasm for
19 years. Every traceable generation of my family had served in
the British military. I felt it was my country which had abandoned
the principles I had believed I was working for.
In August 2003 the FCO attempted to frame me
on 18 false charges of gross misconduct and demanded my resignation.
I refused and after a sickening fight was acquitted and returned
to Tashkent in January 2004.
While in London in approximately May 2004 for
a medical check-up I was informed by Jon Benjamin, Head of Human
Rights Policy Department FCO, that there had just been a senior
level interdepartmental FCO meeting on receiving intelligence
from torture and he had been surprised I was not invited. The
policy that we would accept this intelligence had been re-affirmed.
On return to Tashkent I sent on 22 July 2004
yet a further telegram arguing we should not obtain intelligence
from torture. I kept an electronic copy and this is attached.
I specifically argued (paras 16 to 18) that
we were in breach of Article 4 of UNCAT which concerns complicity
with torture. I also referred to the US transport of detainees
to Uzbekistan (para 18). I referred to the London interdepartmental
meeting (paras 8 to 9).
I received a brief and extraordinary reply to
the effect that there had been no such meeting in the last two
weeks. I knew it had been before then and had not referred to
a date in my telegram.
This telegram, which was sparked by my anger
at the lies in our public position on torture after Abu Ghraib
became public, resulted in my dismissal as ambassador when it
was leaked to the Financial Times (not by me).
1. All CIA intelligence is received by the
UK. MI6 has seen the fruits of every CIA waterboarding session
and rendition torture. Very many will have been passed on to ministers
and senior officials.
2. Ministers decided the principle of the universality
of the UK/US intelligence sharing agreement was more important
than any aversion to torture. We could not refuse this material
from the CIA without compromising the basic agreement.
3. Ministers did know they were receiving
intelligence from torture. There was a definite, internally promulgated
and legally cleared policy to receive intelligence from torture,
directed in person by Jack Straw.
4. The format of intelligence reports contains
a deliberate double blind; by excluding the name of the detainee
from the final report, Ministers can state they have never knowingly
seen intelligence from torture.
5. The government's public lines that we
do not condone, endorse, encourage or instigate torture, even
that we condemn it and work against it, do not answer the key
Are we prepared on a regular basis to receive
intelligence from torture?
That question is capable of a one word answer.
The true answer is yes. The government refuses to give a straight
13 March 2009
Letter from Sir Michael Wood, Legal Adviser,
Foreign and Commonwealth Office, to Linda Duffield, Director,
Wider Europe, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, dated 13 March
UZBEKISTAN: INTELLIGENCE POSSIBLY OBTAINED
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 UN Convention on Torture or receive
or possess information 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
3. This does not create any offence. I would
suspect that under UK law any statement established to have been
made as a result of torture would not be admissible as evidence.
Telegram from Craig Murray, HM Ambassador,
Tashkent, to Foreign and Commonwealth Office, London, dated July
SUBJECT: RECEIPT OF INTELLIGENCE OBTAINED
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
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
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 truethe 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 an 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 uselesswe 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. 16 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
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
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