Former British Ambassador Craig Murray discussed the current situation with Julian Assange, the alleged Russian election hack, Trump’s Israel embassy move and more in an interview with Randy Credico and Dennis J Bernstein.
By Randy Credico and Dennis J Bernstein
Craig Murray is an author, broadcaster and human rights activist. He was British Ambassador to Uzbekistan from August 2002 to October 2004 and Rector of the University of Dundee from 2007 to 2010. Murray’s books include Zionism is Bullshit–censored on Facebook–and Murder in Samarkand. He is a self-proclaimed defender and strong supporter of the work of Julian Assange as one of the most significant “Publishers” of our time.
Murray was interviewed by Randy Credico and Dennis J Bernstein on January 25.
Randy Credico: The last time we spoke, Craig, you were involved in a libel suit which I believe had a positive outcome for you. Even as we spoke, you were in route to London to defend yourself from the suit brought against by a gentleman you called a liar, after he publicly called you an anti-Semite because of your criticism of Israel and the ongoing ethnic cleansing there against the Palestinians. I understand that the suit was dropped just as the case was getting underway. But it cost you a pretty penny before it was over.
Craig Murray: Unfortunately, while I didn’t lose the case, I still ended up having to pay my lawyers. Libel suits are incredibly expensive in the UK, which is why they are used by corporations and the wealthy to silence ordinary people. My legal bills came to well over $100,000. Lucky for me, there were over 5,000 individuals who subscribed to our defense fund and that paid the bill for me. But it is frightening because ordinary people are terrified to write anything critical of the wealthy and powerful.
RC: I was there right after your suit ended. I was covering Stefania Maurizi’s suit in the high court to get email transmissions from the Crown Prosecution Service to both Sweden and the US concerning Julian Assange. She made a great case but in the end they sided with the prosecution. Is the system totally rigged there, or is it libelous to say that?
CM: It is fair to say that the establishment stick together. In fact, I believe that the government and the judiciary are closer here than they are in the United States to some extent. There is quite a closed circle of the ruling class. They attend all the same schools and they are closely linked in various ways. So once you take on the establishment, you are taking on the entire establishment.
RC: So they are protecting the US government but they are protecting themselves as well. The UK was involved in a lot of the things that Assange exposed–the war logs and some of the cables. Is the motivation to keep him quiet so that the exposures don’t continue?
CM: Yes, and the corporate press is part of the same nexus and control the public’s access to judicial proceedings. Wikileaks very much threatens this control of government information. Wikileak’s motto is “we open governments” and that is very true.
Dennis Bernstein: I’d like to talk a little more about Julian Assange’s situation. We know that the powers that be try to undermine the spirit as best they can. To date they have been unable to stop Julian from continuing this work for the people. We know he is facing health problems now. How do you assess his condition and what could happen at this point?
CM: I last met Julian in the embassy a little over two weeks ago. I am not a medical person but medical professionals now say he is in serious condition, both medical and psychological, from the effects of his confinement. He has a single room which is about twelve square feet and a smaller room where people from Wikileaks sometimes work with him. The entire Ecuadorian embassy in London is just an apartment.
Julian gets no daylight at all. He doesn’t like to go near the windows because of the threats which have been made against him. He gets no outside exercise, which even the worse prison offenders are allowed for a short period every day to get some fresh air and stretch their legs. This kind of confining existence is a real health danger. In addition, there is the indeterminate nature of the whole thing, which is bound to have a severe psychological effect, not having any idea when he is going to be let out.
But having said all that, I have not seen any diminution in his intellectual abilities. In fact, he seems to be even more honed in on the issues of the day. He is extremely well informed on political and social developments and an extremely shrewd analyst. I don’t want people to worry about him in that way. But he looks pale and he is obviously not in a healthy state. The dangers of decline are definitely there.
DB: The current Ecuadorian government, which would really like to earn some good favor in the United States, could become a very dangerous entity to Julian Assange.
CM: In general, Ecuador has been fantastic in what they have done for him. Ecuador is a small country and like most countries in Latin America is vulnerable to pressure from the United States. The political situation there has changed and the left is not in the position it was five or six years ago. There is a heavy CIA presence there, both overt and covert. So I don’t criticize the Ecuadorian government, they’re in a very difficult position.
DB: Facebook has not taken kindly to your recent critique of Zionism. What did they say?
CM: An editor has very kindly taken on the task of collecting earlier articles of mine into a book. They include a speech I gave after one of the big Israeli attacks in Gaza. I actually gave the speech in front of a crowd of 350,000 people in Hyde Park. That’s when I first used the phrase “Zionism is bullshit,” which became the title of the book.
Facebook took down ads for the book, claiming that they objected to the profanity, which is kind of funny because it is a word that appears quite often on Facebook. Later they claimed that the book was banned because the title denigrated a religion. Of course, Zionism is not a religion but a political movement. Many religious Jews do not support Zionism. If I don’t agree with a political position I should be able to say so as plainly as I wish.
DB: The current US administration plans to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Would that be in keeping with Zionist policy?
CM: Look, my own ancestors were primarily Celtic and we know that 3,000 years ago the Celtic people resided in places like present-day Switzerland. Just because 3,000 years ago some people believed that God gave Jerusalem specifically to the Jewish people, that doesn’t mean that you ignore the next 3,000 years and the place should become the capital of Israel based on biblical references. The idea that the rights of the Palestinian people can be ignored because of religious text written down thousands of years ago is absolutely ludicrous.
The Palestinians have had a dreadful time over the last ten years. Not only have they periodically suffered completely disproportionate military attacks but they continue to suffer the appropriation of their land and the destruction of their buildings and farms, with more and more Israeli settlements being built on Palestinian land, to the extent that a two-state solution is no longer viable because so much of what would be the Palestinian state is now Israeli settlements, containing hundreds of thousands of people.
To declare Jerusalem the capital of the Israeli state is going to be a major handicap to any future peace settlement. It is something that the entire international community has resisted doing. It really does set back progress on the Israel/Palestine issue, doing nothing for the cause of peace or for Israeli security. This is being done to gain domestic political advantage in the United States with the Christian Evangelical lobby.
RC: Julian Assange has now been granted citizenship as well as diplomatic status by the Ecuadorian government. But the British government refuses to recognize this diplomatic status.
CM: Now it gets a little technical. Under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, if you appoint an ambassador, that ambassador has to be approved in advance by the host country. If you appoint a diplomat to the embassy below the level of ambassador, you don’t have to seek agreement in advance. All you have to do is notify. And Ecuador notified the British government of its decision to grant Assange diplomatic status.
Again, the Vienna Convention is absolutely clear that from the moment of notification that person enjoys diplomatic immunity. The host state doesn’t have to accept the person, they can declare him or her persona non grata and the person then has to leave the country within a reasonable period of time. But they have diplomatic immunity from the moment of notification until they leave.
The whole point of diplomatic immunity is to prevent foreign states from effectively kidnapping your diplomats in order to extort from them your country’s secrets. So the British government should have to allow Assange to leave the country and he should have immunity while he leaves, but they have stated that they would arrest him if he leaves the embassy.
The remedy would be for Ecuador to take the United Kingdom to the International Court of Justice to oblige the UK to follow international law in this regard. Whether Ecuador is prepared to do that, I don’t know. It would require significant legal resources and time and cost a certain amount of diplomatic capital.
Another option would be, were he to be arrested, his lawyers could take his case to the courts in the UK. But we have spoken already of the close ties between the British courts and the government and whether he could succeed is an open question. The fear is that immediately an extradition request would come in from the United States.
DB: The fact is, Julian Assange is a political prisoner who has made an extraordinary practice of monitoring centers of power. They are going to do whatever they can to bring him down. The only real way to save Assange is for the people to be made aware and for them to rise up and prevent the UK government from doing this because this person has performed a great public service on many fronts in many countries.
CM: You are absolutely right. He is being persecuted by governments because of the tremendous journalism he has published. It is ironic that at the moment Hollywood is bringing out a film called The Post about the Pentagon Papers and that is being celebrated at the same time that the entire establishment is out to get Julian Assange for publishing in exactly the way The Washington Post did.
Of course, The Washington Post has now given up on that and we no longer have a liberal media. The New York Times and The Washington Post are leading the calls for attacks on whistleblowers. Julian Assange exemplifies the only remaining form of free media outlet.
DB: You write in your recent piece “The Russians are Coming, the Russians are Coming”, “The complete and unmitigated irrationality of the current epidemic of Russia-phobia does nothing to reduce its incredible virulence as it continues to infect the entire political and media class.” That would include The Washington Post, wouldn’t it?
CM: In fact, the articles that The Washington Post has been spewing out for a year now on Russiagate and the alleged collusion between WikiLeaks and Russia have been quite remarkable to behold. They appear to have given up any journalistic standards in terms of truthful reporting, in terms of allowing people a chance to reply to their allegations, and in terms of doing any real investigation of the facts. The New York Times is probably just as bad on this story. They have both been astonishing in their inaccuracy.
It is difficult to explain what is happening. The political and intelligence communities have seen WikiLeaks as an enemy ever since the Chelsea Manning revelations. And then the political establishment was very alarmed by the challenges to Hillary Clinton, the first of which was the challenge posed by Bernie Sanders. Then WikiLeaks got a hold of emails from the DNC and Podesta which indicated that the entire playing field was being quite deliberately tilted against Sanders to make sure that he didn’t win. This, of course, added to Clinton’s unpopularity. All through the campaign opinion polls showed that Clinton was the only person who could possibly lose to Donald Trump. But the establishment made sure that she got the nomination. Already during the campaign she and her people identified Russia as the scapegoat.
So we have had the coming together of these factors: the hatred of WikiLeaks by the intelligence community, the military’s need for Russia as an enemy to justify the billions and billions in military spending, and the need of the so-called liberal left for a scapegoat for Hillary’s defeat. So you have this kind of perfect storm that has led people to concoct this imaginary scenario where Russia installed the president of the United States in collusion with Julian Assange.
DB: So again, was this a hack or a leak?
CM: It was definitely not a hack, not by Russia or anybody else. It was a leak of information legally downloaded from their servers. I know this because I am quite closely associated with WikiLeaks. But WikiLeaks never reveal their sources because they are totally focused on source protection.
RC: Is there an economic motivation here? Is there a Russiagate industry that has developed?
CM: We shouldn’t underestimate the NSA and their fantastic capabilities. People from inside the agency, such as William Binney and Edward Snowden, all say that if it were a hack the NSA would have the technical ability to trace that data as it passed through the Internet. They would be able to tell you the exact second the hack occurred and where it went. There is no such data, because it wasn’t a hack.
People tend to rationalize doing what makes their employers happy or what they consider to be to their advantage in terms of their career. That is a kind of economic motive, but I think it is largely subconscious. People do what they do to get ahead.
Of course, people at the top have a very definite economic motive. They are trying to maintain corporate control and the control of the political class through a process described by Noam Chomsky [and the late Edward Herman] as “manufacturing consent.” But I believe the foot soldiers subconsciously fall in with what they are supposed to do in order to keep their jobs.
RC: You just wrote a piece on Margaret Thatcher and her support for Apartheid in South Africa.
CM: It is interesting how the media airbrush history. One of the things which has been airbrushed out of Margaret Thatcher’s history is that she was a strong supporter of the Apartheid system. I have no doubt about this whatsoever because my first job as a foreign officer was at the South Africa desk as a political officer.
The entire two years I was there, we were trying to bring her to understand that Apartheid was evil and had to end. But this went against her strong personal instincts, which were to support Whites-only rule. She successfully opposed any sanctions against Apartheid South Africa. She refused to allow any of her government officials to talk to the ANC or to anybody representing Black people in South Africa.
I have been explaining this to people for many years but people have tended to doubt me because I was going against the accepted narrative. I was very gratified last week that Sir Patrick Wright, the head of the foreign service at that time, published his diaries from that time, where he makes absolutely plain that Thatcher supported Apartheid and that he considered her a racist. I am happy indeed that the truth is starting to get out there.
But the other point is that there are many people in senior positions in the conservative party now–including our minister of defense who just resigned–who at the time were also strong supporters of Apartheid.
DB: Meanwhile, as we all know, Apartheid is alive and well in Israel/Palestine. Let us pray that the kind of forces that rose up to end Apartheid in South Africa will also bring pressure to end the situation in Palestine.
Dennis J. Bernstein is a host of “Flashpoints” on the Pacifica radio network and the author of Special Ed: Voices from a Hidden Classroom. You can access the audio archives at www.flashpoints.net.
a Russian Boogeyman Is needed for a few reasons. One, they protect Snowden. That is a major embarrassment to the power elite that can’t allow the truth to expose them. Also, Russia supports Iran and Syria. Iran and Syria support Hizbollah (and to a lesser extent Hamas). This doesn’t impact any US interests directly, but it does enrage the powerful elite of a certain foreign country (often referred to here as the sh*tty little apartheid state). This foreign country employs the US deep state, its government (who does Trump work for? Just look at the relocation of the embassy), etc all via the financial system – foremost the federal reserve, neither federal nor a reserve. Russia has to be curtailed so the expansion from the Nile to the Euphrates can be complete. Syria, Lebanon, and Iran are still left on the ‘7 countries in 5 years’ hit list. Although, Syria looks like it has been sufficiently reduced to an impotent mess incapable of resisting the hegemonic expansion plan with sustained effectiveness. Without Russia, Syria disintegrates and Iran is alone to combat the US illegal attack, as required by the sh*tty little apartheid state which the US taxpayer funds illegally. Essentially we pay them to then be used as their attack dogs, our blood and treasure not their own.
At the USA and the European allies well it turns out to advertize himself as an example of democracy though there it is even less of it than in Russia. I sympathize with Americans.
I am ashamed to say I am British and feel absolute disgust at the treatment of Assange. Of course the judiciary are in bed with the government as well as our own version of the deep state that you have in the US. We are also largely controlled by the American deep state and if the Americans tell our judiciary to jump, they jump! Our lower courts are also enthralled to the state and if one has the temerity to plead not guilty to a misdemeanor like a traffic offence, the magistrates always favour the police, councils or other state bodies. One may as well pay the “on the spot fine” and forget about being innocent. In the UK its cheaper to be guilty than innocent!! I’m in my 70’s and as long as I can remember the UK has been ruled by a minority government. 60% of the people here can vote against a particular party but they still win under our first past the post system. Makes the US electoral college system seem quite reasonable. Lets face it guys and dolls, were’re all screwed and Julian is more screwed than most of us. My government only accepts the laws (that they made) as long as it doesn’t apply to them or upset the Americans.
From the article:
“So you have this kind of perfect storm that has led people to concoct this imaginary scenario where Russia installed the president of the United States in collusion with Julian Assange.”
I would substitute “people: with “the media and the intelligence agencies” It would read like this,
So you have this kind of perfect storm that has led the media and the intelligence agencies to concoct this imaginary scenario where Russia installed the president of the United States in collusion with Julian Assange.
“People” is too vague a term to call the media and the intelligence agencies which conspired to concoct the imaginary scenario where Russia installed the president of the United States in collusion with Julian Assange.
There are better candidates for installing the president of the United States than Russia. James Comey who has been enlisted to provide his knowledge of the Russia Assange theory was himself guilty of reopening the investigation into Server Gate. The Department warned Comey that reopening the investigation just two weeks before a national election would be seen as election influencing yet nary a peep has been broadcast by the media or DOJ or our intelligence agencies in the investigation into election meddling. Why has there been no focus on James Comey’s reopening of the Server Gate investigation? Why have we been presented with only one possible option to blame for the election which is Russia? Why is Mueller only investigating Russia? Are there possibly domestic sources of election influencing like James Comey reopening an investigation eleven days before the election in an October Surprise move to tilt the election?
The answers coming from the Mueller investigation into Russian election tampering seem to conclude that the investigation has fixed on a single possible actor, Russia.
Comey “the election influence Emperor” has been summoned not to testify about how he personally against the advice from the Department of Justice to not reopen the closed Server Gate investigation days before the election since it would influence the election has instead been called to testify how it was the Russians.
How is it that Comey commited mass election influence and then becomes a star witness for the purposes of blaming some other party (The Russians) for election influence he was primarily guilty of?
The investigation is a farce. It is a kangaroo court where the villain who influenced the election is allowed to testify and blame some other perpetrator (Russia) for their own crimes with the full support of the kangaroo court.
The media were also guilty of corroborating the Russia theory by not examining these basic nonsensical arguments and not calling out the obviously conflicted testimony of James Comey.
But why does the media and our government want to finger Russia despite ample evidence that there were more powerful influential players who committed acts that were obvious to everyone including the Department of Justice which were obvious candidates for election influencing?
That answer is quite simple. The answer is that the election influencing by our government and the media worked and they are not going to go after the real reasons for election influencing because it would expose them and probably prevent them from using the same tactics during the next national election. Why would they expose themselves? They wouldn’t would they?
But what to do to preserve their ability to influence elections and not reveal all the real influencing they did?
They invented a Russian Boogeyman and piped propaganda day in and day out to the masses to call them off the trail and distract them away from the real reasons that the media and the government intelligence agencies have exercised their power well beyond what is within the law to influence the last election.
These folks may have watched the movie “The Princess Bride” where the Prince carries off the Princess in a plot to murder her, carry her body across the border, launch a search party which will find her body across the border and blame the other nation next door for her murder which will galvanize the people to fight for the Prince.
It may be a fiction but this is the way wars were really started in the past. Manipulation of events and staging of crises to make it look like some other party is really responsible for the crime called “framing” the crime have a long history in the events carried out by criminals wishing to gain power and also wishing to deflect any blame for the deeds they did from themselves.
So welcome to the mafia justice league which presides over the kangaroo court in charge of framing the Russians for the crimes that they actually committed.
Totally disgusting! The sheeple have no idea! What a travesty of a sham of a travesty this Russia investigation is.
Superb interview. I only discovered this site because it was mentioned at FAIR. People like me gravitate to truth because in one way or another we’ve taken the red pill and know the rabbit hole has no bottom;the reason the corporate media tries to keep us from looking.
QUESTION FOR DENNIS BERNSTEIN: Has Jeremy Corbyn established a position on Julian Assange’s incarceration in the Ecuadorean embassy?
You can buy his book on Amazon prime, and I did.
Perhaps I am on a hopeless quest, but I urge everyone to abandon Amazon. Bezos has a $600 million contract with the CIA, and is owner of one of the most powerful propaganda mouthpieces in the world. I’m sure there must be another vendor for his book. I haven’t checked, but I usually try Alibris for books, music and DVDs.
I’m with you Skip. Whenever possible we should try not to support these criminal enterprises. Support local bookstores if you can. There aren’t that many left where I live.
I enjoyed this interview and who wouldn’t like this man, Mr. Murray, who writes a book and titles it “Zionism is Bullshit,” as well as applaud Julian Assange for his incredible work? My only question is if Assange is afraid to go near his window in his pitiful refuge in the embassy in Ecuador for fear that he will be assassinated, how could he ever live his life as a free man?
Thanks for the informative interview. I’m glad to hear more about Julian Assange. I pray for a right solution that will safe guard his physical well being and his ability to continue his unique contributions to “opening governments.”
I look forward to hearing more from you three here on CN.
Excellent interview with a man of both ideals and integrity. Thanks to both of you.
A great interview, I only object to the quotation marks around Publisher when describing Julian Assange. He is a publisher of heroic dimensions and historic importance.
A very cogent point by former ambassador Murray about how persons are afraid to challenge powerful people. Because of the costs of defending oneself, people cannot afford to do so. Of course, the costs go beyond the legal fees, but include the loss of the opportunity to earn a living, personal attacks and on and on. I think it explains why the most outspoken are retired, out of the business of earning a living. I wonder if Facebook would have accepted horse hockey. I note that our Senators, some of them at least, have encouraged Facebook to be more discriminating on what can be published and most likely would be horrified with the juxtaposition of Zionism and horse hockey.
make Julian an ambassador for a week and then recall him to Ecuador. Would he not have diplomatic immunity?
I don’t think he would be safe even if he made it to Ecuador, which, as the piece says, is crawling with CIA operatives. I think that only Russia or China could protect his life from an American hitman.
Remember, American jets forced down the Bolivian presidential plane over Austria because they thought Snowden was aboard. Washington is willing to violate international law with impunity to get Asange or Snowden. I doubt any country has enough chits to bargain with Washington to let them go. The pope and other top clerics from around the world could plead for clemency and Trump wouldn’t listen. He thinks the kid deserves the gallows. Same bloodthirst from Hillary.
It was a miscalculation for him to get trapped in Britain. Eventually, he will suffer a medical emergency and the goons will grab him, sorry to say.
He may yet escape his present captivity.
I think you’re right. He should join Edward Snowden in Russia if the opportunity ever arises.
Whoever reads this and can communicate with Julian, please inform him to make sure to up his vitamin D intake to between 8 thousand and 10 thousand international units to compensate for no sunlight.
Excellent advice. I take 10,000 units of D3 per diem, since I too am a mostly indoors person. Most people are vitamin D deficient.
As well, at least 1 to 2g of C plus B12. On the other side, a test for mineral deficiency is crucial…
It’s equally important to take Vitamin K2. It works in tandem with Vitamin D to slow arterial calcification. Unfortunately, I don’t know what dose of K2 is recommended.
Vitamin D3 and K2 frequently come in the same capsule.
Julian Assange should be a thorn in the conscience of America, if we still have something like a conscience left. His unlawful imprisonment should shame every citizen of this dying country, unless they are too busy popping pills, drinking, watching football, and frequenting sex clubs…………
Yet another bond between Thatcher and Reagan–both were racists and supported Apartheid.
Of course the UK’s ignoring International Law; who do you think taught the Outlaw US Empire besides the Nazis.
Actually I think you will find that the Nazis learned most of their nastiest tricks from the British and Americans. Concentration camps were used by both Britain and the USA in the 19th century; propaganda has been a core expertise of both for many years. The idea of “weeding out” the mentally and physically handicapped (even by gassing them) was current in Britain and America by the time of WW1. And of course many British and American politicians, academics, religious leaders and others were classic racists in a very coarse and obvious way – until WW2, when the Nazis were depicted as racists and therefore “the good guys” couldn’t be.
Nevertheless, British service men and civilians were appalled by the way Black Americans were treated by their compatriots during WW2. And Jesse Owens and his Black fellow sportsmen and women said that they were treated much more kindly by the Germans, at the 1936 Olympics, than by their own compatriots.
In addition, the Nazis were inspired by the slave system in the U.S. to use forced labor as a means to fuel their war effort.
Genocide of the indigenous population was also a U.S. practice.
Welcome to Consortiumnews Craig Murray. Thank you Randy Credico and Dennis J Bernstein for this timely interview. Mr. Murray I first learned about your commitment to truth in our politics thanks to Robert Parry presenting these interviews on CN. I have been following your travels since your introduction. I was happy to contribute to your legal defense fund, and pleased to hear about the good result. Hopefully we will soon see some serious exposure to the obfuscation and corruption of our voting system. My hope is that someday your name will be recognized along With Chelsea Manning, Julian Assange and Edward Snowden in the heroic attempt to rescue our Democracy from its deep corruption…
For those interested here is Craig’s web page which has some excellent commentary.
Wonderful!!! Thank you so much for this and for the continuing of Consortium News.
I have been so saddened by Robert’s death that I have been quite depressed lately about the health of our media. I still am very worried, but my thanks to whoever is continuing Robert’s legacy. Lord, but we need him more than ever now as both Dems and GOP go at each other and our constitution with fake news and lies – each side has their own set of lies that they constantly lob at each other. How can we maintain a democracy when the electorate is fed a constant diet of lies and half truths?
Thank you again, and Robert, rest in peace. You have done a fabulous job over the years and may your memory inspire others.