Craig Murray was the British Ambassador to Uzbekistan from 2002 to 2004. He has produced a memoir of his experiences that reads like a thriller, vivid, full of incident, dramatic and funny.
As he shows, since Uzbekistan became independent of the Soviet Union, things have got much worse. There is far less personal freedom, and living standards have plummeted. The universal literacy and good roads of the Soviet era have gone.
Murray opposed the US-British policy of supporting the Karimov regime and its increasing repression, which, as he observes, is promoting Islamist terrorism. In doing so, he diverged from US foreign policy, so Blair decided that he had to go. As Murray quotes Oscar Wilde, "Anyone who tells the truth is bound to be found out sooner or later."
Murray dared to expose the regime's appalling human rights abuses, when Colin Powell told the US Congress that Uzbekistan's human rights record was acceptable. Yet there are 7,000-10,000 political and religious prisoners in a population of 22 million. Torture in Uzbekistan is `widespread and systemic' and `used as a routine investigative technique', according to the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture.
Murray shows how the Blair government accepts information obtained under torture from Uzbekistan, as it also does from Egypt, Pakistan, Jordan and Saudi Arabia. MI6 regularly receives this `intelligence' from Uzbekistan via the CIA. Receiving torture material, like receiving stolen goods, is complicity in crime. This breaches the UN Convention Against Torture, whose Article 4 bans `complicity' in torture. Yet the Blair government, despicably, argued in the Court of Appeal and the House of Lords for its right to use torture material as evidence to guide security operations and to detain people without trial. Murray rightly holds that torture material is morally and legally unacceptable, and practically useless.
Further, the book's footnotes reveal that the Blair government has censored various details and names. It even threatened to sue Murray if he included in the book documents that he had made the government release under the Freedom of Information and Data Protection Acts. These documents are still available on the net, at www.blairwatch.co.uk/murray/docs.html and www.dahrjamailiraq.com/murray/index.plp