Wings over Scotland | Revenge of the system
Please note the following press release on the impending imprisonment of former UK Ambassador Craig Murray
[29/07/2021; 15:52 pm; Edinburgh]
A legal precedent will be set tomorrow, as Craig Murray will be the first person to be jailed on the puzzle identification charge in the UK and indeed around the world. Scotland’s second highest judge, Lady Dorrian, sentenced Murray to 8 months in prison following a count of contempt of court for ‘puzzle identification’ related to the Alex Salmond trial.
In May, Lady Dorrian said that, in her opinion, Murray intended to reveal the identities of Salmond’s accusers. Murray has always denied any attempts at identification and that anyone has been identified. Murray had not directly identified any of the accusers in Salmond’s trial, but Dorrian argued that identification may be possible if his case report is read in connection with other materials in the public domain.
No one, other than Murray, was charged with puzzle identification in connection with the Salmond case, even though 81% of respondents in a Panelbase survey who believed they had learned identities gave the media as the source of your knowledge. Lady Dorrian specifically stated that bloggers and the media should be treated differently, as the media is self-regulating.
Murray is the first person imprisoned in the UK for contempt of the media for more than 50 years, and in Scotland for more than 70 years.
Murray’s incarceration comes after an announcement by the UK Supreme Court that it will not hear his appeal. Former UK Ambassador to Uzbekistan Craig Murray will surrender to the police shortly and will begin serving the prison sentence imposed on him. A public protest against Murrays’ imprisonment is planned. Murray’s wife and mother of their 5-month-old and 12-year-old children, Nadira, has written an open letter calling for “active and open solidarity from anyone concerned about the loss of freedom of expression and equality before the law.”
Murray 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 the covert espionage of Julian Assange at the Ecuadorian Embassy. The material before the Spanish court includes several hours of undercover surveillance video of Murray in a private conversation with Assange about the future of Assange and Wikileaks. The Scottish court took Murray’s passport expressly to prevent him from traveling to Spain to testify.
Craig Murray commented:
“I go to jail with a clear conscience after a Kafkaesque trial. I really don’t know who I’m supposed to have identified or what phrases I posted are said to have identified them, in combination with what other public domain information. This ruling will have a chilling effect on defense reporting at trials, to the detriment of justice, and the different treatment of approved bloggers and media is sinister.
I carefully protect the identities of the accusers in my reports.
I believe that this is actually the revenge that the state has long sought for my whistle-blowing in the collusion of the security services with torture and my long-term collaboration with Wikileaks and other whistleblowers. Unfortunately, the major problems of free speech are collateral damage. “
Both Murray and Craig Murray’s Justice Committee have indicated their intention to continue to resist the sentence imposed by continuing to appeal to the European Court of Human Rights through all necessary avenues. They are particularly concerned that, in their view, Lady Dorrian has implied that bloggers and public commentators like Murray should be punished more severely than mainstream journalists for the same crime.
Ellen Joelle Dalzell, campaign group coordinator for Craig Murray Justice stated:
“The sentence handed down to Craig Murray not only sets a legal precedent in terms of a custodial sentence for the puzzle identification charge, but represents an attack on freedom of expression in general and a tangible threat to the free presentation of reports on court trials in particular.
The sentence is excessively punitive, is likely to have serious implications for Murray’s ill health, and represents a dangerous precedent for journalists and other writers seeking to report or comment fairly on matters of public law. “