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Briton Offers Documents on Torture

January 01, 2006|From Associated Press

LONDON — A former British ambassador has published government documents he says prove that Britain knowingly received intelligence extracted under torture from prisoners in Uzbekistan.

Craig Murray, who was removed as ambassador to Uzbekistan after he went public about his concerns, defied a Foreign Office prohibition on publishing the internal memos Friday on his website, www.craigmurray.co.uk. The documents include memos to Foreign Office chiefs in which Murray expressed his concern over the use of "torture material."

In one memo, Murray said he was told by Foreign Office legal advisor Michael Wood that it was not illegal to use information acquired by torture, except in legal proceedings. Intelligence officer Matthew Kydd had also told him the intelligence services sometimes found such material "very useful indeed, with a direct bearing on the war on terror," he said.

Murray said that even after he alerted his bosses to his concerns, they continued to use material allegedly gained under torture "on the grounds that the U.K. could not prove that individual detainees were tortured to extract information."

"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 U.N. convention, was not employed," he wrote.

A Foreign Office spokesman said Friday that although Britain condemns the use of torture, it would be "irresponsible" for the intelligence services to reject information that might protect British citizens from a terrorist attack.

The spokesman spoke on condition of anonymity, in keeping with government policy.

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