The Nether-World

May 10, 2007

Guilty Verdict In Al Jazeera Memo Trial

Filed under: Al Jazeera Memo — netherworld @ 12:39 am

The two men accused of violating the Official Secrets Act by leaking the al Jazeera memo have been found guilty. David Keogh, a government communications officer, and Leo O’Connor, a former political researcher will be sentenced on Thursday and face up to two years in jail. David Keogh’s conviction was predictable as he intended to expose the alleged plan of President Bush to bomb the offices of al Jazeera in Qatar. Leo O’Connor’s conviction is more of a surprise because all he did was pass the memo on to his boss. Because most of the trial was held in secret, very few details of it have emerged and the jury were warned by the judge, Mr Justice Aikens not to divulge any of the evidence they heard.

He said: “The information you heard in camera, including the contents of the letter and what was said by witnesses about the consequences of the disclosure of the letter, remain confidential – it remains secret.”

Peter Kilfoyle MP, who admitted passing on details of the alleged plan to bomb al Jazeera in Qatar, will escape prosecution. Prosecuting an MP on such a contentious issue would have attracted more unwelcome publicity. As it is, this story is likely to be buried by the imminent announcement of Tony Blair’s resignation. Hopefully the al Jazeera memo will one day be leaked once again, and once bloggers get hold of the contents, a cover up will be impossible. For more background about the case see here.


Both men have been given jail terms. David Keogh received a six month sentence and Leo O’Connor has been sentenced to three months in prison. Those are fairly lenient sentences, it could have been two years.

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October 12, 2006

Blunkett confesses to urging Blair to commit a war crime

Filed under: Al Jazeera Memo, Bliar, Iraq, Nu Labour, UK Politics — netherworld @ 7:57 am

As confessions go this one is a blinder (no pun intended). It’s not just George Bush who tried to convince Tony Blair that bombing Al Jazeera was a good idea, David Blunkett is claiming that he also told Tony to attack the news outlet. On this occasion it was the transmitter in Baghdad which was later bombed by the Americans during the invasion of Iraq.

DAVID Blunkett has admitted he urged Tony Blair to break international law and bomb al-Jazeera’s Baghdad TV transmitter during the Iraq war.

The disgraced ex-Home Secretary makes his astonishing revelation in a Channel 4 Dispatches programme, to be shown next week, saying he viewed the Arab television station as a legitimate target.

He brushes aside protests that, as a civilian organisation, the bombing of al-Jazeera would have been illegal under international law.

The amazing exchange will be shown on Monday in the second episode of a two-part screening of the audio-diaries he kept during his time in the Cabinet.

Mr Blunkett tells Dispatches he suggested to the war cabinet that al-Jazeera’s Baghdad transmitter be attacked.

Asked whether he was not worried that this would be “outside the rules of engagement”, Mr Blunkett says: “There wasn’t a worry from me because I believed that this was a war and in a war you wouldn’t allow the broadcast to continue taking place.”

Dispatches reporter Isabel Tang protests: “But al-Jazeera was a civilian target.”

Mr Blunkett replies: “Well, I don’t think that there are targets in a war that you can rule out because you don’t actually have military personnel inside them if they are attempting to win a propaganda battle on behalf of your enemy.”

Tang goes on: “But surely that’s against international law.” Mr Blunkett says: “Well I don’t think for a minute in previous wars we’d have thought twice about ensuring that a propaganda mechanism on the soil of the country you were invading would actually continue being able to propagandise against you.”

Two weeks after Mr Blunkett pressed the Prime Minister to attack al-Jazeera, the station’s Baghdad offices were bombed by the Americans, killing journalist Tareq Ayoub.

So if Blunkett can come clean about suggesting a war crime, isn’t it time Blair owned up about his little discussion with Bush. Over at Blairwatch I have been following the case of David Keogh Leo O’Connor who are accused of violating the Official Secrets Act by leaking what is now known as the Al Jazeera memo. It seems a striking coincidence that this revelation should come now just as we are told that the trial David Keogh Leo O’Connor is postponed until next year and will be held in secret.

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