the Disillusioned kid: The Return of the Ambassador
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Wednesday, October 13, 2004

The Return of the Ambassador

According to yesterday's Guardian, British Ambassador to Uzbekistan, Craig Murray may have his security clearance - the vetting which allows senior diplomats to view sensitive documents - withdrawn by the Foreign Office, effectively removing him from his post. He is currently on hooliday in Europe and was expected to return to tashkent this week, but has been told that his return has been postponed indefinitely until his security clearance is reviewed.

This is all a little suspicious, because it is not the first time that Murray has been hassled by the British Government. He has attracted the ire of his superiors for his vocal criticism of the the human rights abuses perpetrated by the regime of Islam Karimov, a British and American ally in the "War on Terror". He has apparently continued this criticism and extended it to his own government:
Documents seen by the Guardian show that Mr Murray has repeatedly complained to his colleagues that for the Foreign Office "to receive or possess information under torture" may contravene the UN convention against torture.

A Foreign Office lawyer, in a memo written in March 2003, rebuffed his concerns, saying that there was "nothing in the convention to this effect".

In the internal memo quoted in the Financial Times, Mr Murray was quoted as saying: "Tortured dupes are forced to sign confessions showing what the Uzbek government wants the US and UK to believe - that they and we are fighting the same war against terror ... This is morally, legally and practically wrong."

He expressed his "utter contempt for such casuistry" and said the information was skewed to persuade the US and Britain that Uzbekistan was fighting al-Qaida, rather than internal dissidents.
A recurring motif in Karimov's rhetoric, although there is little evidence to support the assertion.

I have suggested before that links with the Karimov regime are becoming politically embarrassing. This being the case focusing attention on this episode may well force the government to back down. Perhaps a letter writing campaign is in order...

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