Craig Murray: British state locks up elderly journalist on spurious charges

In Britain today, any journalist who becomes an inconvenience to the ruling class can expect to be ruthlessly targeted.

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The eight-month prison sentence given to political reporter Craig Murray – seen here handing himself in to the police – is a further chilling example of how the state finds ways to silence journalists who become too much of a nuisance. Murray joins Julian Assange on the list of journalists who have found themselves locked up for exposing the crimes and hypocrisies of the US and British governments. Unless we join together in solidarity and resistance, they are unlikely to be the last.

Proletarian writers

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There are many people in Britain who have never heard of Craig Murray, but as former British ambassador to Uzbekistan he was once a member of the British establishment.

This former ambassador is now in prison, starting an eight-month long sentence. His ‘crime’? Whilst reporting on the strange and very flawed case against former SNP leader Alex Salmond, Murray was judged to have released information that, when put alongside articles from other journalists, might have led to identifying one of Salmond’s false accusers.

Yet, if this charge of ‘jigsaw identification’ is to mean anything at all, it must rest on the presumption that all placers of a piece of the jigsaw – ie, snippets of information – must be equally guilty, since without all of its pieces the jigsaw cannot be completed and the person in question will not be identified.

Why, then, aren’t all the other journalists who contributed to the supposed ‘jigsaw identification’ of Salmond’s false accuser also starting prison sentences? Because they happen to be corporate media hacks with large followings and powerful employers. Mr Murray, on the other hand, is an alternative news blogger without such powerful backers.

This being the case, it is evident that the judge (Lady Dorrian, Scotland’s second most senior judge) has in effect ruled that bloggers and small independent outlets should be held to different standards and given more severe punishments than larger, traditional bourgeois media outlets.

Moreover, this charge of ‘jigsaw identification’ is so obscure and vaguely defined that it has not been used in 50 years in Britain, and for 70 years in Scotland. It is on the statue books not because it is needed to bring miscreants to justice but because it suits our rulers to have a few such legal mechanisms for punishing individuals who have annoyed or embarrassed the British state.

From establishment figure to ‘enemy of the state’

In the early 2000s, and while still a British diplomat, Mr Murray turned whistleblower. He loudly and with ample evidence exposed both the British and US governments’ collusion in torture, murder and the robbery of state (ie, the Uzbek people’s) assets by those then in control in Uzbekistan.

So ended his career, but not his willingness to point out truths as he saw them.

During the run-up and early stages of the invasion of Iraq, he went on to expose the complicity of his former colleagues in the British diplomatic service, showing that they were turning a blind eye to abuses sanctioned by the British and US governments.

At later stages of that brutal occupation, when Washington’s programme of ‘extraordinary rendition’ – or state kidnapping, to give it its proper name – was publicly exposed, those puppet diplomats carried on trying to provide cover for the imperialist barbarity and extreme bloodletting.

The Labour government of Tony Blair concocted a smear that Murray was a sexual predator – a charge that was cleared later by a Foreign Office investigation. That didn’t matter to the government, however, which had got rid of a troublesome voice that kept exposing it.

It is worth noting that the smear of sexual predator is one that was later used against both Julian Assange and Alex Salmond – and was later disproved in both cases (not that many people would know this given the way both men are reported by the majority of corporate media).

A staunch defender of Julian Assange

Perhaps as a result of the way he had been treated for telling the truth, Craig Murray found a new career as a political journalist through a popular blog.

While covering many issues of importance to anti-imperialists, Mr Murray has been particularly vocal and vigilant (and a source of continual embarrassment to the British state) in his reporting of the vicious abuses of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, who has been harangued and lied about in London courtrooms and locked up in solitary and ultra-high-security prison cells while the USA’s vindictive rulers seek his extradition – for the crime of reporting on their war crimes.

In fact, Mr Murray was due to attend a hearing in Spain aimed at establishing the truth asserted by Mr Assange’s defence that he was spied on by the US state at all times during his political asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, and particularly when consulting his defence lawyers. But Lady Dorrian’s court insisted that he should submit his passport so that he could not attend that hearing, and now he is a prisoner.

As soon as the Scottish court had made its ruling, the UK supreme court ruled that he could not appeal against the strange and archaic charge that he had been convicted of.

It is here, in his defence of friend and fellow truthseeker Julian Assange, that Craig Murray has committed his most serious crime in the eyes of both US and British imperialism, and this is what has warranted such extreme punishment of a 65-year-old man in poor health.

One can well imagine the response in the west if such treatment had been handed out to any genuine truthseeker in Iran, Syria, China, the DPRK or Russia. All the venal hacks of all the bourgeois media circuses would be hammering out reams of lies and shedding oceans of crocodile tears.

The British corporate media will cry themselves hoarse over the supposed ‘crimes’ of sovereign and independent nations, whilst the courts will lock away any journalist who makes a nuisance of themself by pointing out the hypocrisies of imperialism.

This process will of course be expedited in future, with the revision of the Official Secrets Act making it even easier to silence anyone who becomes a thorn in the side of the state. Julian Assange and Craig Murray have bravely sought to expose the crimes of imperialism; in doing so they have further demonstrated to us all the true nature of the British state and the British media, and for that they must be defended.

Messages of support to Craig can be sent to