New York Times Supporting Craig Murray

by Laurence on 5/1/2005 · 2 comments

At least that’s what it seems like to me, reading this passage from Don Van Natta’s story today on Uzbekistan and CIA “renditions”:

Craig Murray, a former British ambassador to Uzbekistan, said he learned during his posting to Tashkent that the C.I.A. used Uzbekistan as a place to hold foreign terrorism suspects. During 2003 and early 2004, Mr. Murray said in an interview, “C.I.A. flights flew to Tashkent often, usually twice a week.”

In July 2004, Mr. Murray wrote a confidential memo to the British Foreign Office accusing the C.I.A. of violating the United Nations’ Prohibition Against Torture. He urged his colleagues to stop using intelligence gleaned in Uzbekistan from terrorism suspects because it had been elicited through torture and other coercive means. Mr. Murray said he knew about the practice through his own investigation and interviews with scores of people who claimed to have been brutally treated inside Uzbekistan’s jails.

“We should cease all cooperation with the Uzbek security services – they are beyond the pale,” Mr. Murray wrote in the memo, which was obtained by The Times.

Mr. Murray, who has previously spoken publicly about prisoner transfers to Uzbekistan, said his superiors in London were furious with his questions, and he was told that the intelligence gleaned in Uzbekistan could still be used by British officials, even if it was elicited by torture, as long as the mistreatment was not at the hands of British interrogators. “I was astonished,” Mr. Murray said in an interview. “It was as if the goal posts had moved. Their perspective had changed since Sept. 11.”

A Foreign Office spokesman declined to address Mr. Murray’s allegations. Last year, Mr. Murray resigned from the Foreign Office, which had investigated accusations that he mismanaged the embassy in Tashkent. An inquiry into those allegations was closed without any disciplinary action being taken against him.

The Times describes Mohammed Salikh’s Erk party as “pro-Democracy.” Unless Erk has dramatically changed its 1990s tune on the role of Islam, the rights of women. and the place of non-believers in society, “pro-Democracy” might not be the most accurate term for Erk’s poitical agenda. No mention of the secular nationalists from “Birlik,” or the new “My Sunny Uzbekistan” coatlition, btw.

Curiously, while supporting Craig Murray’s agenda, Van Natta neglected to mention a recent human rights scandal that directly affects journalists and freedom of the press in Uzbekistan: the arrest of 22-year old Hurriyat reporter Sobirjon Yakubov.

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