Craig Murray: The Twilight of Freedom

Active enforcement against non-approved speech is underway in the U.K., as shown by the detentions of journalists at immigration checkpoints and, most strongly of all, by Julian Assange’s continued and appalling incarceration.

 London’s Heathrow Airport, 2010. (dannyman, CC BY 2.0, Wikimedia Commons)

By Craig Murray

Three British journalists I know personally — Johanna Ross, Vanessa Beeley and Kit Klarenberg – have each in the last two years been detained at immigration for hours on re-entering their own country, and questioned by police under anti-terrorist legislation.

This is plainly an abuse of the power to detain at port of entry, because in each case they could have been questioned at any time in the U.K. were there legitimate cause, and the questioning was not focused on their travels.

They were in fact detained and interrogated simply for holding and publishing dissident opinion on foreign policy, and in particular for supporting a more collaborative approach to Russia – with which, lest we forget, the U.K. is not at war.

[Related: Biden and the Islamophobic Watchlist and Youth Delegation to Cuba Detained on Return to US]

These detentions have taken place over the period of a couple of years. All were targeted for journalism and this is plainly a continuing policy of harassment of dissident British journalists.

I have three times in that same period been questioned by police in my own home in Edinburgh for journalism, over three separate matters. I spent four months in jail for publicising essential information to show that a high level conspiracy was behind the false accusations against Scottish Independence leader Alex Salmond.

Former First Minister Alex Salmond preparing to give evidence to the Committee on the Scottish Government Handling of Harassment Complaints, Feb. 26, 2021. (Scottish Parliament, Wikimedia Commons)

Julian Assange remains in maximum security jail for publicising the truth about war crimes. Meanwhile a new National Security Bill goes through the Westminster parliament, which will make it illegal for a journalist to possess or publish classified information.

This has never been illegal. The responsibility has always lain with the whistleblower or leaker, not the journalist or publisher. It seeks to enshrine in U.K. law precisely what the U.S. government is seeking to achieve against Assange using the U.S. 1917 Espionage Act. This is a huge threat to journalism.

Related: ROBERT PARRY: All Investigative Journalists Do What Julian Assange Did]

It is also worth pointing out that, if The Wall Street Journal’s Evan Gershkovich was indeed doing nothing more than he has claimed to have been doing in Russia, that action would land him a long jail sentence in either the U.S. or the U.K. under the provisions which both governments are attempting to enforce.

[Related: Craig Murray: Evan Gershkovich & Julian Assange]

On top of that, you have the Online Safety Bill, which under the excuse of protecting against paedophilia, will require social media gatekeepers to remove any kind of content the government deems as illegal.

When you put all this together with the new Public Order Act, which effectively gives the police authority to ban any protest they wish to ban, there is a fundamental change happening.

Free Assange demonstration in London, Oct. 8, 2022. (Alisdare Hickson, Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0)

This is not just a theoretical restriction on liberty. Active enforcement against non-approved speech is already underway, as shown by those detentions and, most strongly of all, by Julian’s continued and appalling incarceration.

To complete the horror, there is no longer a genuine opposition within the political class. Keir Starmer’s Labour Party opposes none of this wave of attacks on civil liberties. The Scottish National Party has been sending out identical stock replies from its MPs on Julian Assange, 100 percent backing the U.K. government line on his extradition and imprisonment.

I feel this very personally. I know all of these people affected — Julian, Alex, Kit, Vanessa, Johanna — and view them as colleagues whose rights I defend, even though I do not always agree with all of their disparate views. 

Two other people I know personally and admire are under attack. The campaign of lies and innuendo against Roger Waters this last few weeks has been astonishing in both its viciousness and its mendacity, recalling the dreadful attacks on former Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn. 

To be a dissident in the U.K., or indeed the “West”, today is to see, every single day, your friends persecuted and to see the walls close in upon yourself.

A unified political class, controlled by billionaires, is hurtling us towards fascism. That now seems to me undeniable.

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. His coverage is entirely dependent on reader support. Subscriptions to keep this blog going are gratefully received.

This article is from

The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.


Support CN’s Spring

Fund Drive Today


12 comments for “Craig Murray: The Twilight of Freedom

  1. Vlaho
    June 3, 2023 at 18:53

    All that is required for evil to triumph is for good men and women to do nothing.

  2. WillD
    June 2, 2023 at 03:04

    “……is hurtling us towards fascism”. Yes, it is undeniable except by those in power. As someone who lived in two southern European dictatorships (from the 50’s to 70’s), I feel qualified to agree.

    In those two countries mass surveillance was done by an enormous network of informers, people everywhere who informed on everyone else – even family and friends. It was every bit as effective as modern surveillance methods. So, there was no freedom of speech, full on media censorship, and very few human or civil rights. Punishments were generally very harsh even for minor infringements and crimes.

    The only real differences was that in those countries there was no pretence of democracy, and the Roman Catholic church openly supported the government.

    I wonder when our governments will decide to de-democratise us. That will herald the real end of freedom.

    • JonnyJames
      June 2, 2023 at 10:57

      No need to remove the trappings of Public Relations Democracy Inc, it’s good for business. Elections Inc. generates billions for the DNC/RNC, consulting firms, advertising, BigMedia, etc. every election cycle. Around half of the eligible US voters actually vote, so half of the people still believe in the charade. As long as people continue to participate in the sham, we can go on believing that the US is the #1 country of democracy and freedom and all that…

      IMO, democracy (even loosely defined) does not exist in practice. (Voters are not offered meaningful choices, voter preferences do not affect policy)
      The D/R dictatorship offers no meaningful choice. As Chris Hedges said years ago: “there is no way to vote against the interests of Goldman Sachs”

      After the Citizens United case formalized political bribery and money as “free speech”, Jimmy Carter said “The US is an oligarchy with unlimited political bribery” (2015)

  3. Dr. Hujjathullah M.H.B. Sahib
    June 2, 2023 at 02:30

    To me the title ringed like “Toilet of Freedom” ; this is precisely where most so called “democracies” are headed if what you rightly pinned as the crux of the matter in your last paragraph holds. Unfortunately for humanity the world over the Democrats have abandoned their “demo” side to stink on as just “rats” so long as the oligarchic cheese remains available !

  4. rosemerry
    June 2, 2023 at 02:12

    I have followed Craig’s brave actions since the days of Uzbekistan and his courageous stand. How the UK and of course the USA and especially the “EU” can pose as democratic and blame anyone it chooses to disagree with as authoritarian has to be experienced to believe. I am in France -Marine le Pen is accused of accepting Russian information about the war against it, Ukraine needs ‘security protection’, Putin is lacking any justification for his actions- all of this from a “democratically elected president” who of course is a member of the shameful Group of 7 (dwarves!??) priding themselves as a model to the world.

  5. F.Joyce
    June 2, 2023 at 01:11

    I am an Irish person living in Wales. I have lived in the U.K. for many years. I will be returning to my country Ireland as soon as I can sell my house. It is far from perfect in Ireland but there is at least a sense with Sinn Fein on the rise that my people will not stand for rampant out of control fascism. My grandfather was Cathal Brugha, a freedom fighter and hero of the Republic of Ireland. He would be turning in his grave at the rise of the current nightmare we face. They fought and died for Irish freedom from under the yolk of the Sasanagh only to have it undermined by a group of psychopathic greedy reprobates and charlatans. The British government are guilty of manslaughter, treason in high office, embezzlement of public funds to name but a few of their crimes. Their debasement of England in particular is a very sad and frightening spectacle. They all deserve to be locked up for their crimes including Blair, Mandleson et al for their war crimes.

    • Valerie
      June 2, 2023 at 12:38

      Hear, hear. You must be proud of your grandfather. A revolutionary; a freedom fighter as you say. I have Irish friends here who tell tales of the british “occupation”. We also have a good laugh; great people. Good luck with your return.

  6. bardamu
    June 1, 2023 at 22:10

    Applause to Craig Murray for this and for treating the topic with some of the valence it deserves. I suppose you’d need a siren and boots at the door to deliver it all, but this is good.

  7. forceOfHabit
    June 1, 2023 at 21:02

    “A unified political class, controlled by billionaires, is hurtling us towards fascism. That now seems to me undeniable.”

    Arguably we are already there.

  8. Lois Gagnon
    June 1, 2023 at 20:20

    This decrepit dying empire is hanging on by the usual means of repression and violating its own laws. Those who have profited the most have become so convinced of their own superiority to “lesser” humans, they justify the most brutal behavior toward them to solidify their position in the power structure. It will only work for a short while before the entire edifice collapses around them.

  9. JohnO
    June 1, 2023 at 17:33

    Totalitarianism is understood by Americans to be state control over every aspect of life, but we are getting a taste of Dictatorship: American Style. The social system is completely privatized, with the state enforcing laws protecting those who own the most, and using the state’s substantial (but “limited “) powers to promote their interests. When journalists write anything to cast a bright light on the crooked state, the former are smeared, abused, maligned and ultimately prevented from getting the truth out.
    This ought to be a subject that unites the majority of Americans from liberals to moderates to conservatives. Together, they constitute a much larger group than the billionaires and their band of useful fascists, evangelical rebels, and professional fantasists. The time is now to stand up for the truth.

  10. Valerie
    June 1, 2023 at 14:32

    From the article:

    “A unified political class, controlled by billionaires, is hurtling us towards fascism. That now seems to me undeniable.”

    And if we don’t address it, inevitable.

Comments are closed.