News Release

Britain’s Imprisonment of Journalist Craig Murray “Disgraceful”


Craig Murray — a former British ambassador who has become a journalist — has been imprisoned on the charge of “jigsaw identification.” Murray and others charge that he was targeted for his anti-establishment political stances including his exposing British and U.S. complicity with torture in Uzbekistan, where he was ambassador, and for his outspoken defense of Wikileaks founder Jullian Assange.

Scottish PEN noted the prosecution was without recent precedent, expressing “grave concern over the imprisonment of Craig Murray and calls for his release. The writer is the first person to be imprisoned in Scotland for media contempt for over 70 years. We fear this ruling will have a chilling effect on reporting and free expression.”

    Pilger is a longtime, award-winning journalist who has written several books and produced dozens of documentaries. He noted that the ruling against Murray drew a distinction between the actions of establishment outlets and those of independent journalists or bloggers: “The truly shocking jailing of Craig Murray means that journalists approved by the state are protected and those who challenge power — real journalism — are in grave danger.” See recent piece by Jonathan Cook: “Craig Murray’s jailing is the latest move in a battle to snuff out independent journalism.”

    Mohamed Elmaazi broke down several aspects of the case in May, following the original ruling and before Murray’s appeal was recently denied, in the article: “Whistleblower Craig Murray Sentenced To 8 Months In Prison Over His Reporting on Former Scottish First Minister’s Trial“: “A three-judge panel determined on March 25, 2021 — following a two-hour trial in January — that information published by Murray in a number of his blog posts was likely to lead indirectly to people being able to identify witnesses in [former Scottish First Minister Alex] Salmond’s sexual assault trial. This process, known as ‘jigsaw identification,’ refers to the possibility that a person may piece together information from various sources to arrive at the identification of a protected witness. … Salmond was acquitted by a jury on all 14 counts of sexual harassment and assault brought against him. However, that fact was considered irrelevant by the court when deciding the contempt of court case against Murray. Before Salmond was tried in March 2020, evidence had already emerged of a potential conspiracy against the former leader of the Scottish National Party (SNP).”

    Hugh Kerr, a former vice chair of Scottish Executive Council of the National Union of Journalists, was a Labour Party Member of the European Parliament before he joined the SNP. He told Elmaazi that he considered both the verdict and the sentence in Murray’s case to be “disgraceful.”

    “Craig Murray has compiled a remarkable record of courage and integrity in exposing crimes of state and working to bring them to an end,” Professor Noam Chomsky stated, contending Murray “fully merits our deep respect and support for his achievements.”

    Murray put out a statement which was noted by the support group Craig Murray Justice before being imprisoned on Sunday: “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 whistleblowers. Unfortunately, important free speech issues are collateral damage.”