Having failed to stop the release of former ambassador Craig Murray’s book on the use of intelligence gained by torture, and on Western complicity with the Uzbek dictatorship, the government is now trying to take Murray to court over his publication of supporting documents.
They argue that these documents, although obtained by Murray via the Freedom of Information Act and the Data Protection Act, are protected by Crown copyright. As such their publication supposedly infringes on copyright.
The government asked treasury solicitor Gareth Buttrill to threaten Murray with legal action if he did not remove the documents from his site and undertake not to publish them by Monday afternoon.
Murray noted that since no court had ruled on the matter, he should not be obliged to remove the documents. He also requested some time to seek legal advice. The government offered a brief extension of the deadline—but only if the documents were removed immediately.
Murray responded that this is an attempt to suppress information that the government does not want the public to hear.
He told Buttrill, “You have been free to advise me what I ‘must’ do. You must bear in mind what the content of the story is that I am seeking to tell and the government is seeking to suppress.”
Because the issue raised by the government is copyright, any court hearing would be without a jury.
Murray’s documents include a 17-page list of “recommendations” from the foreign office discussing things that should be removed from the book. For example, a suggestion that Colin Powell had lied about an alleged connection between Uzbek dissidents and Al Qaida is described as “potentially damaging to the relations with the US” and listed for removal.
At other points, the government claims that the information weakens some aspect of national security, or simply asserts that Murray is in factual error.
Documents include those already released into the public domain via blogs and websites at the end of last year, as well as new material documenting the government’s bullying of Murray and its attempt to smear him with false allegations.
All of these documents have now been mirrored on blogs across the world, including on the website of Iraqi freelance reporter Dahr Jamail. Go to www.dahrjamailiraq.com/murray