Defend Craig Murray

This article is in the new issue of Communist Fight. However since it went to press the UK Supreme Court refused to hear Craig’s appeal and he has already outrageously been jailed.

Craig Murray, journalist-blogger, British Ambassador to Uzbekistan 2002-2004, and anti-war activist, has outrageously been sentenced to 8 months in jail for his blogs in defence of the former Scottish First Minister, Alex Salmond, who was acquitted by a jury of 13 sexual assault charges in March 2020. Craig is planning to appeal this to the Supreme Court in London.

The Salmond case looks like a political frame-up related to differences within the Scottish National Party, with the current SNP First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, Salmond’s successor. We do not give any political support to either side, though Salmond has a degree of support among more left-wing Scottish Nationalists who are critical of Sturgeon’s leadership for being too conciliatory to Westminster and NATO. These are illusions: in his later years Salmond capitulated over NATO membership for a putative independent Scotland. He is an untrustworthy left nationalist and former Labour left, not some kind of revolutionary figure.

However, the jury in his case were clearly convinced that the case was a frameup and threw it out. That has upset some people in the current Scottish establishment. The case against Murray for ‘jigsaw’ identification of some of Salmond’s alleged victims seems bizarre. He never named them. He did in an anonymous way give his views of the motives and factional relationships of those he considered were behind the prosecution. The Scottish judges say that was enough to identify them to a knowledgeable person, or researcher.

Even if this were true, however, similar details appeared in other publications that covered this controversial trial, and Murray contends that his coverage, though politically no doubt sharper, contained no more circumstantial information than these. It may be correct to forbid the identification of accusers in sexual assault cases but that cannot mean, in a highly political case like this, supressing from public view the likelihood, which appears to have convinced the jury, that this case may be politically motivated, and in what way. That goes beyond protecting putative victims into an attack on the right of the public to know about important political matters.

Murray is not popular with the ruling class, a thorn in their side since his refusal to go along with imperialist-backed torture while he was ambassador, for which he was hounded out, and the prominent role he has played campaigning against the Iraq War, now for Julian Assange. As revolutionaries, opponents of imperialist war, and defenders of basic civil and democratic rights, we say: Hands off Craig Murray! Drop the charges and quash the sentence!

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