Our man in Uzbekistan puts Foreign Office on back foot

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The Independent Online

The Foreign Office said yesterday that it was unable to rule out the possibility that intelligence passed on to the British Government may have come from victims of torture in central Asia.

Craig Murray, Britain's controversial ambassador to Uzbekistan, claimed information extracted from tortured prisoners in the republic had been passed by the CIA to MI6.

Complaining that the practice was morally and legally wrong, Mr Murray also warned officials in London that information gathered in this manner was likely to be unreliable.

His claims were revealed in a confidential Foreign Office report written in July and leaked to the media yesterday.

"We receive intelligence obtained under torture from the Uzbek security services, via the US," he wrote. "We should stop. This is morally, legally and practically wrong."

The Foreign Office denied that Britain had ever used torture to obtain information. But a spokeswoman added: "We recognise there is a need for intelligence on counter-terrorism to protect the safety of British nationals. It would be irresponsible to rule this information out of hand."