August 2, 2021
De parte de Arrezafe
288 puntos de vista

Journalist Craig Murray

– 30/07/2021

The Socialist Equality
Party opposes the jailing of journalist and blogger Craig Murray and
demands the overturning of his conviction and immediate release. His
sentence is massively disproportionate and a chilling attack on
journalists, freedom of speech and democratic rights.

On Thursday, Murray was
informed that the UK’s Supreme Court refused to hear his appeal
against his sentencing for a punitive eight months by a Scottish

Murray, a 62-year-old
former British diplomat to Uzbekistan who is in poor health, will
start his sentence imminently. His defence campaign said in a
statement Thursday evening that he would “surrender himself to
police shortly and begin to serve the custodial sentence handed to

On Friday he wrote, “This
blog will be going dark for a few months… I am well aware that the
last few weeks I have posted very little, because the constant worry
of having a jail sentence hanging imminently over my head, which
became very oppressive. For the last several Friday afternoons I was
watching the clock until the time came when I was confident no
warrant would come and I could have another weekend with my
children.” One of Murray’s children is aged 12 and the other just
five months.

Last month, Murray’s
wife, Nadira, blogged that his health situation meant that he is “not
suitable for prison”. He has “pulmonary hypertension, APS and
atrial fibrillation, among other illnesses”.

Upon finding out that her
husband was being jailed, Nadira wrote Thursday, “Today is the most
heartbreaking day. My husband whose health has been found to not be
suitable for prison must hand himself in for detention within hours
following the UK Supreme Court’s decision not to hear his appeal…
This is not a just punishment, this is a deliberate attempt to break
the spirit of anyone brave enough to make use of free speech.”

Murray was found guilty
in March for his reporting on the 2020 trial of former Scottish First
Minister Alex Salmond. Murray was found to have published articles
which “seriously impeded or prejudiced” Salmond’s trial by
breaching contempt of court legislation “preventing the publication
of the names and identity and any information likely to disclose the
identity of the complainers” against Salmond. Salmond was acquitted
on all 13 charges of sex offences, including attempted rape.

Murray is an advocate of
Scottish independence and a supporter of Salmond. His blog stated
that the case against Salmond was the outcome of bitter factional
warfare raging between the Scottish National Party (SNP) leadership,
the top echelons of the Scottish state and Salmond himself.

As the WSWS noted,
“In his blog, Murray attempted to draw attention to the closeness
of the complainants to [SNP First minister Nicola] Sturgeon, and to
indicate the orchestrated nature of the moves against Salmond,
without naming names. He repeatedly made clear he supported the legal
right of anonymity in sex cases and in his articles sought to stay
within legal boundaries.”

He was sentenced the day
after the Scottish election, on May 7, with the final decision
announced by Lord Justice Clerk, Lady Leeona Dorrian—Scotland’s
second-most senior judge. Dorrian had been the judge in Salmond’s
trial. Dorrian and two other judges, Lord Menzies and Lord Turnbull,
ruled that articles by Murray, read along with other material in the
public domain, would allow a “jigsaw” identification of a number
of the complainants in the Salmond trial.

Murray would have been in
jail soon after the May sentencing as he was told to hand himself in
to a police station within 48 hours. His lawyer managed to extend
this timeframe to three weeks to allow Murray time to prepare an

Dorrian refused
permission to allow the case to go to the UK Supreme Court. However,
Murray used a mechanism in law allowing potential appellants to
appeal directly to the Supreme Court.

Murray appealed to the
Supreme Court on the basis of his right to report being denied
through an “extraordinary, impossibly strict application of ‘jigsaw
identification’” and of “fair process having not been

The appeal was thrown out
by the Supreme Court with no explanation, with a spokeswoman saying
only, “We can confirm that the application has been refused.”

The Craig Murray Justice
campaign noted the grave implications of his jailing. “Legal
precedent will be set tomorrow as Craig Murray will be the first
person imprisoned on the charge of jigsaw identification in the UK,
and indeed in the entire world.” It noted that “Murray is the
first person to be imprisoned in the UK for a media contempt for over
50 years, and in Scotland for over 70 years.”

Murray protested, “I go
to jail with a clean conscience after a Kafkaesque trial. I genuinely
don’t know who I am supposed to have identified or which phrases I
published are said to have identified them, in combination with what
other information in the public domain. This judgement will have a
chilling effect on reporting of the defence case at trials, to the
detriment of justice, and the different treatment of blogs and
approved media is sinister.

“I carefully protect
the identities of the accusers in my report.”

The Scottish appeal
judges claimed that Murray’s articles were not in the public
interest, and that he had to be treated differently as a “journalist
in new media”. Their ruling insisted, “it is relevant to
distinguish his position from that of the mainstream press, which is
regulated, and subject to codes of practice and ethics in a way in
which those writing as the applicant does are not.”

Several mainstream
reporters of the Salmond case published information that could, along
with other items, also have contributed to complainants being
identified, yet only Murray was accused of contempt.

Murray is serving an
eight-month sentence despite identifying no-one in the Salmond case
in his writings. Yet, in February, Scottish independence activist
Clive Thomson was given a shorter sentence of six months for twice
publishing the names of women who gave evidence at the Salmond trial
on his Twitter account.

The railroading of Murray
into prison is the culmination of a politically motivated witch-hunt.
For well over a decade, he has been outspoken in defence of human
rights and has opposed torture sanctioned by the intelligence
agencies. Based on his first-hand knowledge of the criminal
inner-workings of the British state, Murray said, in an internal
report leaked to the Financial Times in 2004, that Uzbek
officials tortured prisoners to extract information. Murray alleged
that the intelligence was used by MI6 after being passed on by the

For the last decade,
Murray has been a trenchant defender of jailed journalist and
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Murray’s defence campaign
statement notes that he “had recently been called as a witness in a
case brought by Spanish state prosecutors against UC Global for
allegedly acting on behalf of the CIA in covertly spying on Julian
Assange in the Ecuadorian Embassy. Material before the Spanish court
includes several hours of covert surveillance video of Murray in
private conversation with Assange on the future of Assange and
Wikileaks. The Scottish court removed Murray’s passport expressly
to prevent him traveling to Spain to testify.”

Murray said of his own
persecution, “I believe this is actually the state’s long sought
revenge for my whistleblowing on security service collusion with
torture and my long term collaboration with WikiLeaks and other

Murray’s defence
campaign will appeal his sentence and jailing at the European Court
of Human Rights “via all routes required”.