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« George Bush executed today | Main | Demonising Islamic Faith »
Tuesday
Jul112006

Blair attacks internet freedom

By Lahai J Samboma

craigmurray.jpgCraig Murray, the former UK ambassador to Uzbekistan, was very steadfast in his opposition to the Bush-Blair Gulf Slaughter. He was eventually sacked for opposing his government’s and American complicity in the human rights abuses by Karimov’s one-party state, and has now been threatened with legal action by Blair’s government.

His crime? Publishing on his website government documents that corroborate claims made in his just-published book, Murder in Samarkand - and denied by Blair - that, among other things, show that British and American authorities used intelligence gained through torture. The government claim ownership of the document’s copyright and say he must remove them or face the consequences - a hefty fine and imprisonment if it’s not paid.

The Blair people are on a roll, but we can take some of the wind out of their sails the more these documents are published on the internet. This is an affront not only to the much-vaunted Freedom of Information Act, under which Murray obtained the documents, but also to  free speech and internet publications. Welcome to the Peoples Undemocratic Republic of Blair's Britain. We are all Craig Murrays now!

A note from Murray:

"In publishing "Murder in Samarkand" I had wanted to publish the supporting documentation in the book to cooroborate my story, especially as the FCO is claiming that the story is essentially untrue. In that sense, perhaps the most interesting link in the documents below is the very first document, which is a table of detailed amendments the FCO insisted be made to the text. This is fascinating if you consider just how much it confirms was true, particularly in the conversations it refers to between officials.

Many of the other documents I managed to have released under the Freedom of Information Act or Data Protection Act. I was astonished when the FCO announced that they would still take legal action against me if I published them. They argue that - and this astonished me - even if a document is released under the DPA or FoIA, it is still copyright of the Crown and so cannot be published. I was even more amazed when the lawyers of the publisher said that this was probably true, and certainly could not be fought without potentially a milliom pound legal case.

It appears that, among so many attacks on civil liberties in recent years, the Blair government has managed to administratively negate its own Freedom of Information Act. Robin Cook must be spinning in his grave.

Net posting is not breaching copyright because there is no charge to access the documents. This site may, of course, be subject to technical attack, so I would be grateful if those who can mirror these documents on their own sites, do so.

These are contemporary documents from my time as Ambassador in Uzbekistan. They do I believe include the real smoking gun on Britain's, and the CIA's, use of intelligence obtained by torture abroad. They also show the FCO getting increasingly angry with me over my being "over-focussed on human rights", rahter than building good relationships with Karimov, our ally in the War on Terror.

They do not give a smoking gun that proves that the allegations brought against me, of which I was eventually cleared, were trumped-up and motivated by a desire to get rid of me for policy reasons. Being internal FCO documents, they are written to maintain the facade of a proper disciplinary investigation. You need to be prepared to read between the lines - and read the book!

Craig"

Correspondence with Government Solicitor:

Dear Mr Murray

INFRINGEMENT OF CROWN COPYRIGHT

The Treasury Solicitor acts for the Foreign Secretary in this matter. This letter should be treated as a letter before claim in accordance with the Civil Procedure Rules 1998.
It has come to our attention that, on 4 July 2006, you placed 15 documents on your website (www.craiqmurray.co.uk) which you describe as “supporting documents” relating to your book ‘Murder in Samarkand’. We have reviewed the documents and it is clear that in each case (save for document 12 and the majority of document 13) the copyright in the documents subsists with the Crown. I refer you to section 163(1) of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 which states:

“163(1) Where a work is made by Her Majesty or by an officer or servant of the Crown in the course of his duties — (a) the work qualifies for copyright protection notwithstanding section 153(1) (ordinary requirement as to qualification for copyright protection), and (b) Her Majesty is the first owner of any copyright in the work”.

We take the position that all of the documents (save for 12 and the majority of 13) were produced by an officer or servant of the Crown in the course of their duties. As you do not have permission or a licence to reproduce the documents we consider that Crown copyright has been infringed. In particular, you should note that the statement on your website that “Net posting is not breaching copyright because there is no charge to access the documents” is wrong as a matter of law. Whether or not a charge is made is wholly irrelevant to the issue of copyright infringement. Further, even if a document is released under the Data Protection Act or Freedom of Information Act that does not entitle you to make further reproductions of that document by, for example, putting them on your website or making further copies to be provided to third parties. The copyright remains enforceable.

As you are infringing Crown copyright, you are required to remove the documents from your website immediately and to provide an undertaking that you will not further infringe Crown copyright by reproducing these documents, or any other document or documents in which Crown copyright subsists and which relate to Foreign and Commonwealth Office matters, without permission or licence. If you do not do this by 4pm on Monday 10 July 2006 my client will issue a claim in the High Court for an injunction requiring you to remove the documents. The claim will be issued without further notice to you. An application for an interim injunction will also be made.

If my client is forced by your actions to issue proceedings, she will seek to recover from you the legal costs incurred as a result. Such costs are likely to be substantial. You are strongly advised to seek legal advice.

We are copying this letter to your publishers Mainstream Publishing. We consider this to be necessary as you state on your website that ‘Murder in Samarkand’ will be an “interactive book’ containing URL links to the Crown documents. In the circumstances we consider that your publishers should be aware of my client’s proposed course of action in view of your infringement of the Crown’s rights.

I look forward to receiving your response.


Yours sincerely


Gareth Buttrill

For the Treasury Solicitor

Cc. Mainstream Publishing

The documents are mirrored here. Also, check out Mathaba, Lenin's Tomb, and Blairwatch.

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