Your Help Needed - Reveal Torture to Stop It
On Tuesday 10 March the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights will discuss whether or not to hear my evidence on the UK government's policy of using intelligence from torture. They discussed whether to hear my evidence on 3 March but failed to reach a conclusion.
The government is lobbying hard for my exclusion. I need everybody to send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to urge that I should be allowed to give evidence. Just a one-liner would be fine. If you are able to add some comment on the import of my evidence, or indicate that you have heard me speak or read my work, that may help. Please copy your email to email@example.com.
I appeared as a witness in person before both the European Parliament and European Council's enquiries into extraordinary rendition. My evidence was described by the European Council's Rapporteur, Senator Dick Marty, as "Compelling and valuable".
The key points I wish to make are these:
- I was British Ambassador in Uzbekistan from 2002 to 2004.
- I learned and confirmed that I was regularly seeing intelligence from detainees in the Uzbek torture chambers, sent me by the CIA via MI6.
- British Ministers and officials were seeing the same torture material.
- In October/November 2002 and January/Februray 2003 I sent two Top Secret telegrams to London specifically on the subject of our receipt of intelligence gained under torture. I argued this was illegal, immoral and impractical. The telegrams were speciifically marked for the Secretary of State.
- I was formally summoned back to the FCO for a meeting held on 7 or 8 March 2003 specifically and solely on the subject of intelligence gained under torture. Present were Linda Duffield, Director Wider Europe, FCO, Sir Michael Wood, Chief Legal Adviser, FCO, and Matthew Kydd, Head of Permanent Under-Secretary's Department, FCO.
- This meeting was minuted. I have seen the record, which is classified Top Secret and was sent to Jack Straw. On the top copy are extensive hand-written marginalia giving Jack Straw's views.
- I was told at this meeting that it is not illegal for us to obtain intelligence gained by torture, provided that we did not do the torture ourselves. I was told that it had been decided that as a matter of War on Terror policy we should now obtain intelligence from torture, following discussion between Jack Straw and Richard Dearlove. I was told that we could not exclude receipt of specific material from the CIA without driving a coach and horses through the universality principle of the UK/US intelligence sharing agreement, which would be detrimental to UK interests.
- Sir Michael Wood's legal advice that it was not illegal to receive intelligence got by torture was sent on to me in Tashkent (copy attached).
- On 22 July 2004 I sent one further telegram on intelligence got by torture, with a lower classification, following FCO communications on the subject. Copy attached.
It was my final communication before being dismissed as Ambassador.
In conclusion, I can testify that beyond any doubt the British government has for at least six years a considered but secret policy of cooperation with torture abroad. This policy legally cleared by government legal advisers and approved by Jack Straw as Secretary of State.
2 March 2009