Former British ambassador Craig Murray handed himself in to UK police on Sunday to serve an eight-month prison term for contempt of court after his appeal was rejected.
Murray, formerly ambassador to Uzbekistan, was convicted in May over blogs and tweets about the sexual assault trial of Scotland’s former first minister Alex Salmond.
The 62-year-old hugged his family members and supporters, who sang “Auld Lang Syne” outside a police station in Edinburgh as he arrived to begin his sentence.
In a statement released by supporters, he said that “I go to jail with a clean conscience.”
He was convicted after a judge ruled that, put together, his posts made it possible to identify four women who were witnesses at Salmond’s trial last year, breaking Scottish law. The UK Supreme Court refused to hear his appeal.
The blog posts and tweets had remained online despite Murray having been warned of the risk of the women being identified.
Salmond was acquitted of all 13 charges of sexual assault.
Murray’s supporters have described him as a “political prisoner” and have likened his case to that of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
Reporters Without Borders on Friday described his sentence as “disproportionate and highly concerning.”
Murray may be the first person to be imprisoned in the UK for media contempt of court for publishing information that could allow “jigsaw identification,” it said, stressing that journalistic activity should not result in imprisonment.
The Sunday Times once called Murray “the world’s most undiplomatic diplomat.”
He was withdrawn as Britain’s envoy to Tashkent in 2004 after accusing London of using information obtained under torture in the former Soviet republic as part of the US-led “war on terror.”
He stood unsuccessfully on an anti-Iraq War ticket against Britain’s then-foreign secretary Jack Straw at the 2005 general election.
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