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Former British ambassador to Uzbekistan is freed after four months in prison

A former British ambassador who was jailed after a court ruled his blog posts could have identified Alex Salmond's sex assault accusers has been released after four months in prison.

Craig Murray, 63, the former British ambassador to Uzbekistan, left HMP Edinburgh on Tuesday to the cheers of about 100 supporters who had arrived to see him walk free.

Mr Murray, who had become a blogger and pro-independence campaigner in recent years, was judged to have been in contempt of court over blogs he wrote during the trial of the former first minister, Alex Salmond.

A judge found his articles contained details which, if pieced together, could lead readers to identify the women who made allegations against Mr Salmon, who was acquitted of all 13 charges including sexual assault and attempted rape in March last year.

On August 1, Murray handed himself into police in Edinburgh and began his jail term. He was released today after serving half of an eight-month sentence.

Murray previously hit the headlines after a scandalous affair with a belly dancer while he served as ambassador to Uzbekistan. 

He found Nadira Alieva bellydancing in a Tashkent nightclub, slipped $20 down the back of her embroidered knickers and gave her his number.

The affair led to the end of his 20-year-marriage in 2004 and left his diplomatic career in tatters. However, the couple, who have a 23-year age gap, wed in 2009 and she was at the prison, together with his children, to see him released.  

Former UK ambassador to Uzbekistan Craig Murray is met by his wife Nadira, sons Cameron and Jamie and daughter Emily as he is released from HMP Edinburgh

Craig Murray is embraced by his daughter Emily as he is released from HMP Edinburgh

Addressing supporters today, he said: 'It's been a hard four months. I've learned a lot, one thing I have learned is that dignity comes from inside.

'Nobody can take away dignity from you if you don't allow them to do so and those in the Scottish establishment who attempted to humiliate and degrade me only succeeded in humiliating themselves and sadly in bringing shame on Scotland internationally' he said.

Leaving the Stenhouse prison, he said it was 'horrible in there' and 'prison is not a pleasant place'.

He added: 'Scotland should be ashamed of his antiquated, old fashioned and retrograde justice system'.

Almost breaking down in tears, Mr Murray thanked his wife, his children and his supporters.

He said he had thousands of letters from across the world, including ones which said they were 'appalled at this attack on freedom of speech and this miscarriage of justice'.

Murray previously hit the headlines after a scandalous affair with belly dancer Nadira Alieva while he served as ambassador to Uzbekistan. The affair led to the end of his 20-year-marriage in 2004 and left his diplomatic career in tatters. However, they later married and are still together

In his 16-minute speech, the former ambassador welcomed the Republic of Barbados into existence after it had 'shaken off the British monarchy', attacked Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP for not making a 'scintilla more progress than they have on the day I went in', and called for prison reform.

And Mr Murray told his well-wishers the prison guards he encountered in HMP Edinburgh said to him they did not think he should be in jail.

'A couple of them went further and stated straight out that they did not sign up to join the prison service in order to keep political prisoners,' he said.

At the end of his address, supporters, who arrived with Saltires and banners, handed him gifts of whisky and flowers.

Mr Murray, who emerged from prison with a large beard, said he would relax for the next few days with his family.