Monday, July 10, 2006


Craig Murray is the former British Ambassador to Uzbekistan, who was removed from his post after complaining too loudly about human rights abuses and torture in a country that was, at the time, considered a vital ally in the "war on terror". He's recently written a book, Murder in Samarkand, detailing his experiences there and the dirty deals done by the UK. As part of this, he has also published several documents released under the UK's Freedom of Information and Data Protection Acts on his website, so that people can read the documentary record for themselves.

Or at least, that was the plan. Shortly after publication, he was contacted by a lawyer for the Foreign Office demanding that the documents be removed. The reason? While they've been released under the FOIA, they are still covered by Crown copyright, and the FCO sees any publication of embarassing documents as being unauthorised use.

Clearly, this makes a mockery of Britain's freedom of information law, whose entire point is to allow people to hold the government to account by gaining access to information and publicising it. But the authoritarian Blair government doesn't seem to care about that where there are dissenters to squash. Of course, this is the 21st century, and now we have the internet, and so the usual game of online whack-a-mole has begun.

I don't have space to host the documents myself, but they're up at Dahr Jamail, and at Blairwatch, and at Many Angry Gerbils. Or you can get a zip archive (12.8 MB) from Politics in the Zeros. There's even a Torrent available, for those who prefer to help distribute as well as downloading. Of course, all of this is illegal under British law - but when the government uses the law solely to silence its critics, that law deserves to be ignored.


Thanks I/S. I've got the torrent seeding now and I'll leave it open. The documents are fascinating, even if they really do no more than prove what anyone prepared to be honest has been saying for some time. The sizzle, of course, comes in the form of yet another Blair government assault on open government with the risible copyright gambit.

Neil Morrison? You there? After way you ended the recent Iraq thread by triggering Godwin's law, I'm interested in your rationalisation for the enthusiastic appeasement (more aid annually than the whole of West Africa!) of a corrupt and vicious plutocracy.

I'm sure there's some way this can be contrived to be the fault of "the Left" but I'm damned if I can think of it for the moment.


Posted by Russell Brown : 7/10/2006 08:09:00 AM

The documents are now also available at

Posted by Anonymous : 7/10/2006 10:26:00 AM

Anyway, it's the Uzbek's right to run their country how they want and we shouldn't intervene if they choose to be ruled by a nasty dictatorship.

That's right. And the matter of the US giving ~$250,000,000 military "aid" annually is nothing to do with us. Just a private exchange between two other countries.

Posted by Anonymous : 7/10/2006 06:52:00 PM