‘CIA will continue torture with help of mediators’ – UK's former envoy to Uzbekistan

Craig Murray, British ambassador to Uzbekistan from 2002-2004, was fired when he revealed CIA rendition practices in Poland and Uzbekistan to UK leaders – and was branded a liar. The US torture report will hardly change the picture, he told RT.

RT: In 2004, you were fired as British ambassador to Uzbekistan after openly criticizing the UK and the US for accepting Uzbek intelligence obtained through torture. How does this new report make you feel?

Craig Murray: It is nice at last finally to have some official acceptance from the United States. But what was happening was happening. In fact, the rendition flights which went to that secret base in Poland, at Szymany, almost every single one of those flights went on and landed in Tashkent in Uzbekistan. And a number of people, whenever they finished within Szymany, were taken on to Uzbekistan. In Uzbekistan, I believe they were murdered because they have never been seen again. So it is nice to have an official admission that things happened. We still have no such admission from the United Kingdom. The UK government is still today denying its complicity with it, unlike the Polish government.

Britain's former ambassador to Uzbekistan Craig Murray (Reuters / Darren Staples DS / Rus)

RT: Back then, it was Foreign Secretary Jack Straw and PM Tony Blair basically saying that you were inventing this stuff?

CM: They called me a liar directly. They said in parliament that I was a liar. They said there is no such thing as an extraordinary rendition program – it was a figment of my imagination, I’d invented it all, and they sacked me. I would say that today Jack Straw has been allied to deny on news programs all over the UK that it happened. They are still lying about it.

RT: Could it have been that they didn’t know?

CM: Not at all. The evidence was absolutely overwhelming. I personally sent reports of what was happening in Uzbekistan to Jack Straw, saying the CIA were getting intelligence. He definitely knew that. That was why he sacked me. There was no way they didn’t know. But the cover-ups continued. Today this is the only television interview I’m doing. Jack Straw has been allied today on all the media to say he knew nothing about it. And not the BBC, not one single UK media outlet, will allow me to say that I told them about that and I was sacked.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair (R) waves next to British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw (Reuters / Francois Lenoir)

RT: Do you think it is right that so much detail was left out of this report? Should there have been more to it?

CM: There should definitely have been more to it. I wouldn’t mind people not being named if they were prosecuted, that would be fine. But for people not to be named so that they are protected in any combat whatsoever, it is despicable. And also you should realize the UK at the ambassador level in Washington has been lobbying for months in detail to have references to the UK be taken out of the report. And other countries have been doing that too. So that is not just the Americans of their own volition – although they are bad enough, who have redacted this – but the UK has been actively complicit in reducing the amount that is published.

RT: The report also revealed that eight terror plots were falsely cited to justify torture. Will the CIA apologize?

CM: No, we will never get an apology from security services, we will never get a full apology from either the UK or the US governments. And that is a terrible thing. Torture is not the only instance. We are constantly given false reports of non-existent terror plots in order to justify the massive funding of the security services. So torture is not the only aspect of this. This report forensically examines the claims of the security services to have foiled terror plots in which torture was involved and find that they were lying. They are equally lying by even more terror plots where torture wasn’t involved. We are constantly fed lies by the security services about the foiling of terror plots.

A car drives past barbed wire fence surrounding a military area in the forest in Stare Kiejkuty village, close to Szczytno in northeastern Poland (Reuters / Kacper Pempel)

RT: Poland is coming forward. Do you think we will see more countries officially putting their hands up?

CM: I am quite pleased that Poland is ready to come forward. I know [Poland’s former President] Aleksander Kwasniewski. I’m afraid to say, I think he is at the very best turning a blind eye or worst lying when he says he didn’t know that there was torture going in that facility. I think it was extremely obvious to everyone. They must have been aware people were flying out of it to Tashkent and were never seen again. So to say that Poland has come clean is a bit of an exaggeration, I think they are still lying about it.

RT: There is a worry that history can repeat itself. Is there a chance that all this can happen again?

CM: I think you would be naive if you thought it has entirely stopped. The CIA has probably stopped, at the moment, using torture directly itself. The CIA is most certainly still getting intelligence from torture, by getting other people to do it for them. In Uzbekistan where I was, the CIA didn’t actually do the torture. They got the Uzbek government to do it. I also know for certain that at the moment in Bahrain, people are being tortured in order to provide evidence to the CIA. It is just the Bahrainis who are doing the torture, not the CIA.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.