From: Michael John Smith
To: Daniel James
8 December 2008
I got your letter on Saturday, and I sent a copy straight away to Giovanni. He said he has read your letter and will try to do what he can to help.
Giovanni has asked me to write to you about one matter in the trial. Tank Jowett did not keep him informed about what was going on, and so he would like you to tell him what happened about the “enemy” issues, that is how was it dealt with about whether Iran was considered an “enemy” of Britain?
This is important because Giovanni is trying to work on this point for your appeal. What did the judge say about Iran being an “enemy”? Did the judge mention anything about “enemy” during his Summing Up? Giovanni will be very interested in anything you can tell him about this subject and how it was put before the court.
If you can send me some information about this I can email it straight to Giovanni, because at the moment he is very busy in Iraq, and has been travelling back to Rome more or less every week. But he seems to answer my emails in an hour or two, so he will get your messages as soon as possible.
I read about what happened at your trial, and the conviction and sentence. I am very sorry that your trial ended with this result, and I know you must be feeling very bad about facing more time in prison.
You write about how the prosecution have twisted the evidence, when they knew it couldn’t be true. I tried to warn you that this is what would happen, because they did just the same sort of tricks during my trial. I got the impression that you didn’t quite believe me, and that they wouldn’t do this to you. These prosecution lawyers have no conscience, and they will do anything they have to do to get a conviction at trial - that is their job. Whether they really believed that you were spying for Iran would not have worried them, all they had to do was to take any piece of evidence and use it against you, to try to make the jury see you as “guilty”.
I can see that you are angry about being stitched up like this, but in truth this happens all the time in the British courts, and that was one of the reasons why I and my friends were trying to get you tried by a Court Martial, where you would have stood a better chance of being found “not guilty”.
Giovanni still seems optimistic that he will be able to win an appeal for you, and I hope that he is right. He has arguments that he thinks could work for you, and we will have to wait and see if it will be successful. Unfortunately your best chance was at the trial, when there was a chance the jury would acquit you. At an appeal you have to convince only judges, and they are harder to convince. Much less people win appeals, and so don’t get your hopes up too high, as I do not think it will be easy for you to win an appeal. It can take a year or more to get to appeal, but perhaps Giovanni can speed things up. If you lose an appeal your only hope is to go to the European Court of Human Rights and/or the Criminal Cases Review Commission, and neither of those options are fast - they can also take years, and you will probably be released from prison before a decision is made.
You must try and do everything you can to show that you did not receive a fair trial, but please do not think this will be easy. All through the 10 years I spent in prison I was writing to MPs, journalists and other people I thought might be able to help me. In the end I was only released when I reached the parole point - so all my hours of hard work never got me anywhere. The system is designed to make it difficult for the prisoner - you know how difficult it is to do anything while you are locked up, and you can’t easily make contact with the outside world.
I will do anything I can to help you, and will pass on any messages to Giovanni or others you want to contact. But I would suggest that you try to make use of your time in prison, and do some education or training so that it is not a complete waste of time. Many inmates spend hours watching TV or wasting time. Try to do something useful so you don’t just look back on this as wasted life. I studied courses in music and Spanish, and did a lot of things I didn’t have the time for in my previous life. You can’t get these years back, so make use of all the facilities you can in prison, and life will be as pleasant as it can be in the circumstances.
I have copied your letter and sent it to several journalists. I can’t be sure they will take up the issues you mention, but hopefully someone will be interested to follow up some of the points, and it could help to circulate the idea that you didn’t get a fair trial.
Take care of yourself my friend, and try to stay optimistic about the future. You are probably at the hardest point right now, but this time in prison will get easier if you focus on the good things in your life.
Daniel James replied as below:
From: Daniel James
To: Michael John Smith
Friday 12 December 2008
Thank you for your letter, I will reply as best as I can:
There was no mention of enemy in court, however my QC asked General Richards about the good work that Iran was doing for Afghanistan. General Richards replied that he had met the Iranian Ambassador a few times and it was clear that Iran was doing a lot of good work for Afghanistan, then either the Prosecution or judge asked if Iran was helping the insurgents in the south of Afghanistan. He replied, it is not the Iranian Government but it is possible there were some groups within Iran, but there was no evidence to back it up.
About when you warned me about the Prosecution and their tricks. I did believe you, and now I believe you 200% and I can imagine what they did to you, and I believe you are innocent.
I did my best to be tried by the Army (Court Martial). I must have asked Richard Jefferies to sort it out for me about 100 times, he kept telling me that he had written to the Army and Prosecution but he was lying, but I don’t think he did anything.
I don’t waste my time in prison. I keep myself busy reading Iranian - Spanish language, gym. Also I work as a tea boy in house Block 3.
On Thursday I saw David Sleight and Simon his boss. David is leaving the firm on 23rd December, so I will be seeing Simon. Today I am going to speak to my QC Colin Nichols and David, they are going to appeal against the sentence. They think the sentence was manifestly excessive. I don’t know how long it will take.
Because the judge gave me 10 years, they will re-categorise me to B CAT for at least 6 months or one year, then C and D CAT. However, if I get the appeal and get a few years off, I end off in the D CAT because I have already done 2 years.
Please tell Stefano to give advice to Simon. I told Simon today that I regard di Stefano as one of the best lawyers, they already know what I think of him
Thank you for all your help and please send my regards to di Stefano and thank him for me.
I believe they may be moving me to another prison. I am not sure when. I have not been given a sentence plan yet, but I will keep you informed if anything changes.
Mike, go to Internet and look for the following:
House of Commons - Defence - minutes of evidence Tuesday 24th April 2007: General Richards
‘I had little interaction with the Iranians but I did meet the ambassador of Iran about three times and obviously I was well-versed in the amount of money and effort that Iran was putting into the west of the country but also into the Hazara population in particular, and it was clearly doing a lot of good work for Afghanistan.’
Mike - the above is what General Richards said in the House of Commons on Tuesday 24th April 2007, just after he finished his tour in Afghanistan.
Daniel James letter 12 December 2008 p.1
Daniel James letter 12 December 2008 p.2
Daniel James letter 12 December 2008 p.3
So, it can be seen that General Richards was not thinking about Iran as an “enemy” of the allied forces in Afghanistan, which clearly he should have been if Daniel was being tried for communicating information prejudicial to the interests of the UK to an “enemy”.
Mr Brian Jenkins MP also put a question to General Richards which demonstrated that Iran was not being considered with hostility as an “enemy” in Afghanistan: ‘How do we get them [the Americans] to understand that Iran in this area has a positive role to play, it has a commitment to stop the drugs going across its border, but 60% of it still goes across the border, and we have got to sit down and discuss these strategies as far as this is the only way we are going to get a regional plan to bring Afghanistan back to the civilised world as such …’.
Whether this is yet another misuse of the Official Secrets Act, or simply the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) manipulating the facts to gain a wrongful conviction, only time will tell.