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By Jason Michael
ON SUNDAY BEFORE LAST, after his appeal was rejected, the former British diplomat Craig Murray handed himself in to Police Scotland so as to begin serving an eight-month prison sentence. Murray, a whistleblower and a pro-independence activist and journalist was found guilty of the offence of jigsaw identification; the crime of providing enough — or about enough — information in a publication or broadcast to assist the audience to identify persons whose identities have been protected by the court. On the face of it, then, this looks to be a fair conviction. But things are not that simple. Craig Murray was the only one of a number of journalists who did this to be prosecuted and, even at this, it still remains unclear as to where he helped to identify anyone.
Let’s make a long story short, shall we? The decision to prosecute Craig Murray, as we all know, was the bonus rollover ball of the Alex Salmond trial, a case in which not a single charge of an entire catalogue of charges resulted in a conviction. The British administration in Scotland (the so-called Scottish government) was discovered to be up to its neck in a conspiracy to criminalise and politically destroy the former First Minister. Nicola Sturgeon, her husband, and a number of senior figures in the Scottish National Party were working hand-in-glove with the Crown and the British state-aligned media to both destroy Mr Salmond’s reputation and send him to prison. As lies were exposed by his defence team and as one witness account after another was picked apart, the case against Salmond quickly came undone and he was acquitted.
Yet, even after leaving a Scottish court an innocent man, the SNP kept up a negative propaganda campaign against him, to ensure he was effectively found guilty by mere accusation. Ms Sturgeon herself even used a televised COVID briefing to question the verdict of the court. What was clear — what remains clear — is that the Scottish National Party had a special interest in criminalising Alex Salmond. It would not take Hercule Poirot to conclude something fishy was going on; that something stinks in the self-styled ‘vehicle of Scottish independence.’ Witnesses recruited and coached, funds — and ring fenced funds — misappropriated, and a First Minister changing her story more often than her socks; call it ‘divisive’ to mention, but even the Irish press has been asking questions.
Enter Craig Murray. Like many other journalists, Murray attended the trial and reported on what was happening. Unlike other journalists however, Murray reported the case for the defence. Unlike the others reporting on the case, Murray, as British ambassador to Uzbekistan, had blown the lid on the human rights violations of the Karimov government (something that infuriated his bosses in London). Craig Murray was a marked man before he started undermining British interests in the case against Salmond. This made him the bonus ball in the British state’s campaign against Scottish independence. He was a much softer target and the case against him was easier to prosecute; he did actually kinda do what they said he did (if we define that as reporting facts and doing his job).
Given that other journalists did the same — and worse, given that he was already in their sights, given that he was a soft target, given the vindictive nature of sentence (an older man with no previous criminal convictions), given the rejection of his appeal, it is a fair conclusion that Craig Murray was the target of British state interest. And yes, this does call into question the independence of the judiciary in Scotland and the pro-independence bona fides of the leadership of the SNP. Everything about Muray’s arrest, charge, trial, conviction, and sentencing was political. And it is in a closer examination of this ugly affair that we will see more clearly just how compromised the Sturgeon administration has become. Craig Murray has not been imprisoned. He has committed no crime. Murray is a political prisoner and as such he has been interned — the first such prisoner in this new phase of the independence movement’s struggle against the British state.
Political internment is an instrument the British government has deployed against pro-independence and anti-imperialist activists since the mid-eighteenth century. In all of Britain’s former colonial and imperial possessions internment marks the transition between the two stages of state violence; between the official delegitimisation of anti-British aggitation and state-sanctioned murder and violent repression. Internment is the first sure indication the British state is losing the battle for hearts and minds, and it has long since lost that battle in Scotland.
How do we address internment? Simply put: the hard way! Internment strips the judiciary of any pretence of impartiality. The law — benign as it can be in peacetime — is not neutral when it comes to challenges to the state. The law exists within the state to protect the state. This is the function of the law in the United Kingdom (in the English colonies of Scotland and Wales and in the six counties of Ulster). The only law we can look to for assistance is international law (not that such really exists either); we must document Britain’s human rights violations and highlight them to our friends in Europe and around the world.
In the meantime, we must suffer whatever Britain throws at us. As the Irish internee and hunger-striker Terence MacSwiney said, it is not those who can inflict the most but those who can endure the most who will be victorious. In every theatre of its empire the one weapon Britain has never been able to defeat is the political martyr. We are now in the business of making martyrs for Scotland — and the only effective way of doing this is to show perfect social and political solidarity with the victims of the British state in Scotland; those in prison for their activism and those experiencing the brutality of British state harassment at the hands of the police and the Crown courts. We must organise throughout the movement a programme of welfare to raise money to support political prisoners and their families, we must educate the ‘respectable’ sections of the movement — whose who see prisoners simply as ‘criminals’ — about internment, and we must use internment as a counter-propaganda tool to agitate against London rule.
Craig Murray is an individual case, and it is unique to him. But there is no separating his internment from the wider British campaign against Scottish independence. In this regard, then, Murray is a test case. It is with him that the British government will gauge the usefulness of this instrument in this phase of its fight against us. Our job is to be equal to this and be prepared to wage an unrelenting struggle against Great Britain in its prisons. If Britain cannot break the spirit of the Scottish Republic in its dungeons, then Britain cannot destroy the Scottish Republic!
Operation Demetrius – Internment
4 thoughts on “The Political Prisoner”
Craig Murray was found guilty of contempt of court, not for jigsaw identification.
Wasn’t the reason for the contempt that Craig’s reporting was one piece jigsaw identification?
Well said Mr MicCann. The next card in the deck will be jury free trials held in camera.. Craig was not the first. A certain Glasgow taxi driver who was the main man in AUOB marches did jail time and then as a cionvicted felon was denied his cabbie liscense by Glasgow Council . The sma’ folk fa’ through the cracks.
The offence was contempt of court because a) Mr Murray had written blogs that might have led, piecemeal, to identification; b) because anonymity of an alleged victim in a sexual offences case remains even after the case falls. Journalists were warned of the consequences of a continued breach of the convention of anonymity, and Mr Murray, although he was not the only offender, continued to ‘offend’ against the dignity of the court and its ruling even after the warning. Contempt of court is a strict liability offence, and not having the intention (mens rea) to actually commit the offence, although usually a pre requisite, is no defence; the same happens in other strict liability areas of the laws, such as road traffic offences.
The court could have refused to be drawn, but chose not to do so, but the real shock came with the sentence. Again, the court could have chosen to be lenient and impose a small fine and a stern warning, but it chose not to. Even as the disgraceful (in more ways than one) Rape Crisis Scotland mouthpiece to the SG, Ms Brindley, chuntered and chittered from the sidelines, the court did nothing to put a stop to this misuse of the convention of anonymity. It was never intended to be a shield from behind which women could snipe.
I do feel that Mr Murray has been dealt with harshly, and, in Lady Dorrian’s place, I’d have admonished him and removed the opportunity for political martyrdom. I do believe that the punishment has been disproportionate to the offence and should never have been imposed. At the same time, Mr Murray lost me when he made remarks that showed little regard for women’s human rights in general. It smacked of partiality and a sense that all women must be held to account for the transgressions of the few, which seems to be a common theme in the minds of many straight men, who appear to laud the trans activists as the vanguard against women’s advancing gains, seemingly supporting male paraphiliacs and fetishists in their quest to eliminate women from all single-sex spaces and rights. Believe it’s called misogyny and many men seem prone to it, even the best of them.
I still respect the work he has done for human rights and for individuals, but he has chosen to show a strange antipathy towards women’s human rights that is inconsistent with his overall stance of neutrality in this field. When you start picking and choosing who should have their human rights respected and who should not, you are on shifting sands. Nevertheless, I wish him well and hope that his stay will not be too taxing on his overall health.
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