This is the first of my ‘Off Book’ articles, extending posts begun on Facebook or Twitter. On 29th July I wrote the following on Facebook:

I haven’t been following the Craig Murray case closely. I can’t pay attention to everything. But it is alleged that Craig Murray in covering the failed case against Alex Salmond gave out details that, while not naming protected witnesses, could have been ‘jigsawed’ together to identify them. Murray argues that all the information he published was publicly available.

As I said I haven’t followed this closely and anyone who knows more is free to correct me but it seems Murray is being punished for embarrassing the leadership of the SNP by exposing apparent collusions to pervert the course of justice by those charged with ensuring justice.

Murray’s prosecution seems malicious. Craig Murray is a very good blogger and I think a very good man. In addition to any personal animosity towards him from the Scottish political establishment, he finds himself persecuted as a responsible truth teller in these increasingly authoritarian time where both truth and truth tellers are repressed. This is a clear pattern that we should all be aware of.

Craig’s wife Naidra describes the situation on his blog:

Today is the most heartbreaking day. My husband whose health has been found to not be suitable for prison must hand himself in for detention within hours following the UK Supreme Court’s decision not to hear his appeal.

We were extremely hopeful that the Supreme Court would hear his case and had no doubt that this particular case should have been heard given how important and relevant it is in the context of Freedom of Speech in the UK. Instead, the Supreme Court declined to hear it.

Yet again my heart is deeply saddened to find that the UK, once a country which placed great importance on Human Rights issues, has failed to listen to my husband’s case. Additionally, the Scottish Court outright dismissed Craig’s poor health, having been made aware through the mandatory Social Work report and doctor’s reports that his wellbeing would be at risk if forced to go to jail.

At first I tried to come to terms of him being jailed in the hope he would be granted dignified conditions in jail but I am saddened and shocked to learn he could be placed among criminals, with no ability to bring books or enable him to write, with no entertainment allowed. He is being treated like a criminal. This is not a just punishment, this is a deliberate attempt to break the spirit of anyone brave enough to make use of free speech.

Given a pen and paper what do you do? You write in your own voice speaking the truth. Having been with Craig for two decades he has always spent his time and energy highlighting injustices and standing up for what is right, carefully, considerately and consistently.

I was brought up during Soviet times, and post independence in my own country, Uzbekistan. I have witnessed and personally experienced myself what the price of freedom of speech truly is. Opponents were ‘disappeared’ or it was claimed they had ‘taken their own life’, or been locked away in asylums. I am filled with fear this pattern is now repeating itself in the UK. It is appalling to see Craig is going through the same treatment in the so-called ‘human rights’ respecting country UK.

This is an attack on Truthtellers. His writings are those of a highly qualified Journalist, Human Rights Activist, former Rector of Dundee University and former British Ambassador. To us, his family, this situation is devastating: I am now left with my 5 months old baby, yet to find a good way to explain Craig’s jail sentence to his confused and anxious 12 year old son.

Of any readers concerned with the loss of freedom of speech and equality before the law I ask that you show active and outspoken solidarity with my partner.

My Facebook friend Sara Salyers responded:

I know Craig and I have been following closely. He has been punished, the first journalist to be jailed for contempt of Court in Scotland for 70 years, for two things. First, because he attended the Salmond trial and reported accurately the evidence (not the identity of those providing it), the facts that made the case so jaw-droppingly malicious (and largely fictitious) went public.

The narrative of those who set out to get him, the SNP inner and top core, and the one reported by the press was that there were a huge number of complaints of predatory sexual behaviour against him. Because of Murray we discovered that the police had, on the instructions of Peter Murrell (husband of the First Minister) and with the collusion of the then Lord Advocate interviewed almost 400 women, some repeatedly and one for nine hours, in an attempt to elicit evidence for a prosecution against Salmond. Those who did provide evidence were largely from a single and very closely related group within the SNP circle. We know this because many were later identified via incompetent coverage by Kirsty Wark or Dani Garaveli.

The evidence included allegations of bruising fluff from a jacket, evidence of inappropriate touching where there was no other witness or where others present saw no such thing and evidence that was shown to be entirely fabricated through records and documentation. (Such as an attempted rape at Bute House after an event at which the accuser was shown not to have been present at all.) This was massively embarrassing to the then Lord Advocate, the First Minister, Murrell and the colleagues involved in the stitch up.

The truth explained the not guilty verdict but without those details Sturgeon’s repeated attempt to say that Salmond was guilty anyway and her demands that he apologise to women would have convinced many more people than they did.

The second reason is that he exposed the UK government’s complicity in he support of one of the most vicious regimes in the world. To know who this man was and is, you might want to read this:…/2004/jul/15/

The Guardian article that Sara cites is worth reading. It paints a picture of a man to whom terms like ‘maverick’ and ‘colourful’ might be applied but must also be described as a man of integritity, conscience and compassion. Craig is also an exceptional speaker:

Apart from the clear injustice being suffered by Craig Murray and his family we should be concerned that his persecution is also an attack by the establishment on truth telling and on freedom of public discourse. Jonathan Cook writes “Craig Murray’s jailing is the latest move in a battle to snuff out independent journalism”. Cook’s article is comprehensive and well worth reading.