Former British diplomat-turned-dissident Craig Murray has reportedly handed himself into police in Edinburgh to begin his eight-month prison sentence.
The former senior diplomat, who has re-invented himself as a journalist since being forced out of the Foreign Office in 2004, arrived at St Leonard’s police station in Edinburgh on Sunday morning (August 01) accompanied by his family and supporters.
Murray was convicted on contempt of court charges in March in a case revolving around the Alex Salmond trial.
At a virtual sentencing in May, judge Lady Dorrian claimed Murray had knowingly breached court orders giving the women accusing Scotland’s former First Minister of sexual assault.
Judge Lady Dorrian subsequently imposed an eight-month prison sentence on Murray, a punishment widely seen as disproportionate.
On Friday (July 30), the UK Supreme Court refused the ex-diplomat permission to appeal his conviction.
It is worth noting that Salmond, who is widely considered the leading light of modern Scottish nationalism, was eventually cleared of all sexual assault charges in a trial that many viewed as politically motivated.
Similarly, many observers have judged Murray’s trial to be politically motivated and a culmination of the British establishment’s 17-year witch-hunt against the former UK ambassador to Uzbekistan.
While journalists must ensure they adhere to court orders with regard to witness protection, Craig Murray’s prison sentence on charges related to his blogging is disproportionate & highly concerning. He should be released & alternative measures considered. https://t.co/OzJk1K44Bd— Rebecca Vincent (@rebecca_vincent) July 30, 2021
Despite the gravity of the case, the mainstream British media has mostly stayed silent on the jailing of a journalist who is being punished for essentially exercising his freedom of speech.
Meanwhile, the Scottish chapter of the global free speech organization PEN International has expressed “grave concern” over the ex-diplomat’s imminent imprisonment.
Taking to the social media platform Twitter, the Scottish arm of PEN said: “We fear this ruling will have a chilling effect on reporting and free expression”.
Scottish PEN expresses grave concern over the imprisonment of Craig Murray and calls for his release. The writer is the first person to be imprisoned in Scotland for media contempt for over 70 years. We fear this ruling will have a chilling effect on reporting and free expression— Scottish PEN (@ScottishPEN) July 30, 2021