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Lottie

UK Removes Uzbekistan Ambassador

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The government has withdrawn Britain's ambassador to Uzbekistan, Craig Murray, who has been an outspoken critic of the regime's human rights record.

The Foreign Office has given no reason for its decision but it comes after a UK newspaper quoted Mr Murray making claims about the Uzbek authorities.

The Financial Times said a confidential report he wrote claimed political prisoners are tortured for information.

Mr Murray, 45, has been receiving medical treatment.

A Foreign Office spokesman said: "It's now felt it's no longer possible Mr Murray can do his job effectively so he's been withdrawn."

He denied the action was in response to the Financial Times story, which claimed Mr Murray alleged in a report to the Foreign Office that MI6 used intelligence gained by torture, passed on by the CIA.

This was strongly denied by the Foreign Office, who said intelligence agencies never used torture to obtain information or incited others to do so.

His two years as ambassador have been controversial, beginning when he said: "Uzbekistan is not a functioning democracy, nor does it appear to be moving in the direction of democracy."

This was at a time when Uzbekistan had become close to the United States and a US military base had opened there, so it caused political embarrassment.

'We love Murray'

His speeches continued to criticised the Uzbek Government and he was championed by the opposition.

Some even carried placards outside the embassy saying: "We Love Craig Murray."

Mr Murray spent a long sick-leave in London last year, but returned to public life with vigour and even let a British TV crew film him in a bar in Tashkent.

He was expected to return this week to Uzbekistan after the summer break.

Source

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