07 December 2008

Daniel James complains about his unfair trial

Daniel James has sent me a letter, which was posted on 5 December 2008. It is all too obvious that he is complaining about just the sort of prosecution abuses that I warned him about back in June 2007, and which are contained in my letters to him that I have published elsewhere on my blog.

Despite all the bullsh*t the prosecution threw at Daniel, and the claims of serious misconduct and damage to the interests of the State, in effect he has not done anything so dreadful. As usual the jury were bullied by the prosecution into arriving at a guilty verdict, based on some very flimsy evidence.

So, looking at the wording of the Official Secrets Act, just who were the "enemy" that Daniel was convicted of communicating with? Was it Iran? Are we about to go to war against Iran? I don't think so. It is the hysterical way that the prosecution in such cases like to whip up hostility and bad feeling that this is really about. There's more than a whiff of racist attitudes in portraying Iran as Britain's "enemy". But in the confines of a British Crown Court everything is fair game to prosecution lawyers, most of whom have a chip on their shoulder from being brought up on a diet of public school abuse and faggoting to their superiors.

And just what was prejudicial to the interests of the State in this case? It seems there is general agreement that none of the evidence was prejudicial - but there's nothing new in that. This is yet another of the prosecution's mind games to create an illusion of danger and intrigue that will make the jury fearful to acquit the defendant. He might be a danger, or he might be thinking of passing over some important detail, or becoming some sort of hypothetical threat. That's what this is about, is it not? Not real espionage, but the possibility that Daniel might at some point become a danger, if he gained access to some secret or other?

So, what information in the supposed communication was useful to an "enemy". I would hazard to say that there was nothing useful whatsoever. Daniel has been condemned to a 10 year sentence for practically nothing. He is only there as a symbol, to warn others not to drift into espionage activity. The intelligence services know that it is now some years since the cases of Rafael Bravo and Ian Parr, and they now need a more recent case to hold up as an example. Daniel James is only the latest in a line of victims of the Official Secrets Act, and he is considered expendable for the greater good.

Coming back to Daniel's letter, I have copied his written pages so that you can see what he actually wrote (at the foot of this page). I have also copied the text of the letter, and edited it slightly to make it more readable, and this version follows on below:

From: Daniel James
Belmarsh Prison

17 November 2008

Dear Mike,

I’d like to thank you for all your work/help. This is the first time that I have written to you, the reason why, if I ask my lawyer, he may not do it. Anything that I write to you, it has been said in the open court so you can give it to anyone you like. I believe that you know what had happened in court.

Count one: guilty: the emails. There is nothing in these emails which are confidential or prejudicial to the interest and safety of the State. Even the judge said that before the trial started. I thought the judge was going to dismiss the count one, but my QC did not press on it so it stayed. I asked my lawyer if I could appeal against it. He said there is no basis to appeal against it. I do not agree. Please ask Giovanni di Stefano.

Count two and three couldn’t reach the verdict. The judge has given one week to the prosecution to answer whether they want to retrial or drop the two charges (I am still waiting for a reply).

7 Predator photographs:
Until two months ago, I was always accused of taking these photographs and I was always told by my unprofessional and incompetent previous lawyer that the CD in question was found in my house in Brighton. About two months ago we found out that these photographs were taken on 3rd May 2005. I was not in Afghanistan in 2005. I went to Afghanistan on 31st March 2006, in May 2005 I was in London studying the Afghan language.

Also, during the trial, we found out that the CD was not in my house in Brighton, it was in the room in Afghanistan which I shared with two other soldiers. We also found out the CD was not on my shelves or wardrobe, indeed it was on the shelf belonging to someone else, and that shelf was not in that room when I left Afghanistan on 11th Dec 06. Indeed, one of my other roommates called L.Cpl Crosson left Kabul on 16th Dec 2006, and mentioned in court that when he left the shelf in question was not there. It means that shelf was brought in the room after the 16th Dec 06.

The Police have found no trace of any item from this CD either in my laptop or home computer. Within this CD, there are many items such as the comedy Blackadder, singing and many other entertainments. During the trial we found out that the person who took these photographs was a British officer called Wing Commander RAF David Anthony Bush, who had permission to do it. He also said he had copied it for many other people, put it on the ISAF computer website for whoever wants it.

It is my belief that the Police knew about this from the beginning, but they just wanted to stitch me up. This is why in Nov 2007, a year after my arrest, the same Police officer who charged me (DS Andrew Pink) went to Afghanistan/Kandahar to try to connect me with these photographs when he knew perfectly it was not me. I was not even there.

The two confidential documents:
When I returned to Kabul from my R&R in Nov 2006 (17th - 18th Nov) one of my salsa students called Lt.Col Sundquist (US Army) asked me if I could do her a favour with some translating. She told me to go to a unit within ISAF, in Class One Area - I can’t remember exactly the name, whether it was CJ3, CJ4 or CJ7 - and get my instructions. I went there, went upstairs, a big massive room, about 10-IS tables. As you enter the room, on your left-hand side, in the same direction as the staircase, there was another small office belonging to the Brigadier General (British).

In the big room, at one of the front desks, I asked someone about my instructions. He told me that a couple of documents needed to be translated and also they needed me to attend the meeting. He said go to the Linguistic Cell, they will send it to me there - I have been in that office before and saw an officer from my own regiment, rank, Major (?), short, age about 40 years (Princess of Wales Royal Regiment).

The same day or next day I went to the Linguistic Cell to collect the documents. In the Linguistic Cell they had just built a new office at the front, which was not there when I left for R&R on 31st October 06. One of the local interpreters was in this office called Secandar, he told me that Cpl Milad, who used to be deputy in the Linguistic Cell, had left Afghanistan at the end of October. Also, Major Fisher, who was supposed to be in charge, he is not really working there because he has other work. He said Rahimi now is in charge of the Linguistic Cell and he is his deputy. I asked him if there was any document for me to collect. He looked at the computer in the same office and said “yes there is”. I asked him to put it on my memory stick and I would come back later to translate it. He did, I went back either later that day, or next day. One of the local interpreters sat behind the computer (because I cannot type) and I translated to Dari. I asked him to print out the translated copy. He did.

Within days I went to the meeting, I cannot remember the exact date. The meeting took place in the Class One Area, in the building which is attached at the back of the Linguistic Cell. Within that building there are offices belonging to media photographers. As you enter this building, the meeting was either the 2nd or 3rd door on the left. Quite a big room, big wooden conference table, about 10 ISAF officers mainly British, two Afghani officers, Lt.Col Sundquist was there. It is possible that there was a PowerPoint regarding these documents. I had the translated copies and I gave it to the Afghani officers. I do recall that the discussion was about shortage of fuel.

In Jan 2007, one month after my arrest, the Police interviewed Lt.Col Sundquist. She said that apart from me organizing a ladies football match for her, she never had any dealings regarding work matters with me - what a lie (no statement was taken from her). In April 2008 the Police went and took a statement from her in the USA. In her statement she indicated that she had asked me twice to attend a meeting and do translating for her (confidential level). So I said we need her as a witness personally in court. She refused, even though we gave her about 8 months notice. She said she cannot leave her family for two days. One thing you need to know, Americans do a one year tour and they only get one R&R (holiday). I do remember when I used to speak to her in Kabul, and asked her “doesn’t your family mind that you are away so long from your family”. She replied “no, I do it all the time, they are used to it”. The reason she did not come to court was she knew that there is a big difference between being personally in court and a video link.

Some of the questions she was asked:
Q: “When did you start doing salsa lessons with Cpl James?”
A: “I don’t remember.”

Q: “When did you stop doing salsa with Cpl James?”
A: “Jan or Feb 2007.”
[What a lie. She knows perfectly well that Cpl James was arrested in Dec 2006.]

Q: “Did James do any translating for you?”
A: “Yes.”

Q: “How many times?”
A: “Once or twice.”

Q: “When was this meeting?”
A: “I can’t remember.”

Q: “What was this meeting about?”
A: “Winterization - providing logistic and fuel for winter.”

Q: “When does the winter start in Kabul?”
A: “October.”

Q: “Was there snow in Oct 06, in Kabul?”
A: “Yes.”

Lie, the winter does not start in October, and there was no snow. Indeed, in October 2006 it was so hot that we used to put on the air-conditioner. Snow arrived at the beginning of December. I went for my R&R on 31st October, and the temperature was 70-80°.

She said she remembered Cpl James came to that meeting, and did not have any folder with him, and he sat next to the Afghani officers.

If she has such a good memory that she remembered I entered the room without any paperwork, then it would be very easy for her to remember when was that meeting, not the exact date but the month - she would remember that James was arrested in December 2006 – and not to say that I was teaching her until February 2007.

She was also asked what were the names of other officers in that meeting. She replied “I can’t remember”. She lied in court. But there were many officers, mainly British, in that meeting especially the one who told me to translate those documents. If the officers hear about it, they may come forward and tell the truth. The documents in question were dated 16th and 18th November 2006 - it was in my memory stick. The Police evidence shows that the last time these documents were accessed was 20th November 2006, the time I translated them. In the same memory stick there were many items regarding my work.

In December 2006, while I was studying with a British naval officer regarding my Farsi exam, Lt Gary Wilson, he indicated in his statement that “James gave me his memory stick to put some previous Farsi exam on it”. Gary took it to his room, put the Farsi exam on it and brought it back to me (James). “When I returned James asked me if I could put it on his laptop computer, because he was unable to use a memory stick”.

If there was anything sinister about these 2 sitreps, why did I give the same memory stick to a navy commanding officer? He would have seen it straight away. It does not add up.

Last week I was told by my lawyer, because they found me guilty, I have to pay the legal cost of about £200,000 (two hundred thousand pounds). Not only do they put an innocent man in jail for 2 years, but also they want to take my money which I worked for all my life. This is how the British Government pays you back after serving the country for 20 years.

Thank you for your letters dated 7th, 8th October.

29th November 2008

Sorry Mike, I did not send you the letter dated 17th November because my lawyer said to me not to send any letter until after sentence.

Went to court on Friday 29th November, the prosecution dropped the count 2 and 3. The judge gave me 10 years sentence, even though my QC Colin Nichols told me before that he had looked at all cases, and in his opinion I will get 4 to 5 years. It is a bit different between 5 and 10. After that they told me that I have no ground to appeal against my conviction or sentence. I do not believe them. There is only one more thing that they need to do for me, that is regarding the legal cost which could be over £100,000, that they think I have to pay.
Because they say the legal cost for my previous lawyer and current one could add up to £350,000.

It is my belief that the reason the judge gave me a high sentence is because this is a high profile case. On that day there were many police officers and press present.

I have filed an appeal application form myself, because my lawyer refused to do it.

Please contact Di Stefano and let him know.

I am going to write to you exactly what was in count one:
One email 2nd November 2006. Only

‘Hello Mr Heydari hope you are well. I am in England now on holiday. This is my new email, I only open this when I am out of Afghanistan. This email is only for you. Mr Bahrami, the person that you ask me to give it to no one else knows about this email. I have got a computer for you the one you told me.

I have taken seven more pictures from those whose job is black. In the north Iran/Iraq border they are setting up a military camp. All the ground forces are there. Take care of that side. I don’t know the exact situation but it is possible that it is closed to a city called Alamara. You remember that I had said some one’s sister is in the parliament. I still don’t have the address, but someone who knows him/her for past 4 years and give him/her messages I have his/her full details. I have taken a copy of my own passport. About my friend who saw you about buying he is waiting for the defence minister to sign it and then he will come to you. And many thanks. Any other work that you may have I am at your service Esmail interpreter.’

Statement from officer M. Head of the intelligence at ISAF/NATO in Afghanistan in 2006.
(M at B79) ‘The references contained in the text of the emails do not in themselves provide any great cause for concern in terms of the information they impart. They appear to be comments that may have been overheard and possibly misunderstood by the author who appears to have a rather exaggerated sense of his/her importance. I know of no damage to NATO - ISAF or UK operations that would be caused solely on account of the content of these emails. “Job is black” could possibly be a reference to Special Forces operation but doubt it. Alamara has been at some time a UK military base (it was in the south). It is not in the north Iran/Iraq border.’

Statement from political adviser to General Richards: ‘what happens in Iraq is no concern of ISAF in Afghanistan.’

Mike, everything I have written in this letter it has been said in open court.

Please send a copy to di Stefano. Also write back to me.

Thank you

Today 2nd December: I have been told today that my lawyer is going to appeal against the sentence.

Daniel James letter p. 1

Daniel James letter p. 2

Daniel James letter p. 3

Daniel James letter p. 4

Daniel James letter p. 5

Daniel James letter p. 6

Daniel James letter p. 7

Daniel James letter p. 8

Daniel James letter p. 9

Daniel James letter p. 10