June 8th, 2010
03:52 PM ET

British contractor's family appeals his jail term

Former British army officer William Shaw is serving a two-year sentence in Kabul’s infamous Pul-e-Charki jail for bribery. This week, his wife and daughter were allowed to visit him. CNN’s Nic Robertson spoke to Liz Shaw and Lisa Luckyn-Malone in Kabul about their efforts to secure his release.  He filed the video report above, and this behind-the-scenes post:

When William Shaw’s wife and daughter walked into our office in Kabul, Afghanistan, you would have no idea the trauma they were going through.

In a country alien to them, still jet-lagged, the two women had just arrived from an emotional visit with Shaw at Kabul's Pul-e-Charki jail.  They were weary but not worn down.

Liz, his wife, and Lisa, his daughter, were clearly made of strong stuff.   They were cast into something that little in life can prepare you for: a loved one locked up in a foreign land.

It was my impression that Shaw’s 28 years in the British forces imbued his family with a sense of justice and the courage to fight to clear his name.

Sitting on the settee in our office, Liz and Lisa were composed and clear about what they wanted to say. They’d come with Shaw’s lawyer, Kimberly Motely, but had no need to make use of her counsel.

Their lives have been in a freefall ever since Shaw was sentenced for bribery in April accused of paying $25,000 to an Afghan intelligence official.

As Motely has explained to them and to me, bribery under Afghan law requires the person who received the money to be a government employee.

That was not the case for Shaw, according to his lawyer.  

Shaw’s employer, security company G4S, authorized him to pay the $25,000 in good faith as a fee to the Afghan intelligence service to have two vehicles released for their custody. That was in October of last year, and the vehicles were released.

At the request of G4S, Shaw returned to the intelligence service on several occasions to ask for receipts for the cash, according to his family.  Five months later, he was called in to the intelligence service for questioning and arrested.

The former military serviceman who once received a top award from the Queen was sent to the Afghan super-max jail, locked up in solitary confinment.

The Afghan intelligence service has sent two letters to the judges dealing with Shaw's case informing them the man who took the $25,000 from Shaw was not a government employee, according to Motely.  That, she said, should be enough to drop the bribery charge.

When I asked his wife and daughter if they think there may be something political in this case, they wisely counter they’ve never been in this position before and have no way of judging the situation. They carefully ignore widespread speculation that Shaw's case may be an effort by Kabul's government to push back against Western accusations that it is corrupt.

For Liz and Lisa, this is all about getting their cherished husband, father, and grandfather back home. This for them is not political. They and all their friends know Bill - as he is called at home - to be as honest as the day is long.

Liz says she sometimes gets angry with him for being "too honest for his own good."

After watching from a distance back home in England as two hearings came and went, Liz decided she just couldn’t sit at home and do nothing.  At the very least she needed to come to Afghanistan to understand what was going on.

She was able to do better than that.  She got into Afghanistan’s super-max jail and stole a kiss through glass partition with her shackled husband.

And, even better than that, she helped get him moved to Pul-e-Charki and out of solitary confinement.  There, Liz was able to spend three hours with the man she loves, without shackles or glass partitions.  It was their first time together in months.

But it was a bittersweet move:  Shaw is out of the relative safety of solitary confinement, and in a jail where hardcore Taliban fighters effectively control their own wing.

We spoke to Liz and Lisa just hours after they visited Shaw in Pul-e-Charki. So, it was little surprise that as our conversation drew towards a close and we talked about the road ahead and her husband’s appeal Liz’s careful composure cracked. She shed a tear.

She apologized. She needn’t have.

soundoff (58 Responses)
  1. Maggie

    If someone has commited a crime they should pay but the innocent should walk free. What a farce I know this man and his family and he is a good man.

    June 11, 2010 at 3:25 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Hamed


    June 10, 2010 at 12:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • MO2

      Hamed, You have been sadly confused. British Soldiers are losing their lives trying to better the lives of ordinary people. I am sure that you will be shocked to know that they respect these people's culture and religion. They are trained to understand how their actions will affect these people. these soldiers are under orders to take risk with their own lives to minimise any Afghan casualties.

      bill Shaw was a legitimate contractor providing security to the British civilian embassy staff, who are supporting the Afghan government. If the contractors weren't there all foreign aid would stop and there would be a return to chaos. Let the Afghan Govn grow until they are ready to stand on their own, as a responsible and restected Islamic Republic.

      June 10, 2010 at 5:42 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Mckinley

    Don't call me prudent, but as far as I have read and believe, most of the Afghan administration is riddled with corruption. So don't you think they are more accountable to prosecution and time behind rather than some foreigner who maybe trying to work the way things move fast with all the beauracracy, i.e. with bribery. Come on, clean your house first and free him, these people are here to build your country.

    June 10, 2010 at 8:34 am | Report abuse |
  4. jacqui hunt

    if Bill Shaw was an Americian citizen the US government would not have stood for him going on trial in the first place – and or would get him out and home to the US the Briish dont seem to be so strong they still have still not got the couple home from Somalia unbelievable

    June 9, 2010 at 5:20 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Brian Cahill

    The essence of democracy is Justice,the oxygen of life is freedom and with it our freedom of speech should be tempered with knowledge and understanding among all the peoples of the world.

    June 9, 2010 at 3:56 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Dr S Wheeler

    "his family may have to pay a heavy bribe or this is just a political motivated situation" posted by John.
    If we have to do this I would like to help....

    June 9, 2010 at 3:11 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Oluwatosin

    i don't accept an argument here,
    what we need is how to make PEACE in all Nation's.
    what is a way forward,that what am expecting from everybody in House here,
    or who want to comment on anything.
    i must confess to you all Yafal shouldn't have used that kind of Word in house here.
    If what i saw on the Video clip is right
    Let God justice prevail on those Evil doers.
    William Shaw! the accusation is right or not God see all.
    Please! we are brothers and sister,should not give Devil a room to over rule us.

    June 9, 2010 at 10:00 am | Report abuse |
  8. Sean

    Ziad and Shif, you can talk alot about the pain inflicted by the us and others but why not help to stop it? One other thing, if there is so much pain, why doesn't the people stand up against the government? A government only works if they have people that will follow. Look at the revolutions that have happened around the world, that proves that it is possible.
    Anyway back onto topic, the family should pay the fine (or more like the company should) and get out. My best wishes and luck to the family.

    June 9, 2010 at 8:32 am | Report abuse |
  9. Ralf

    I think if the Allies leave Afghanistan and Iraq, Al Qaida would have a lot less weight with its supporters. They would no longer have the 2 main reasons of their battle. If they decide to launch attacks to the West, well we know where exactly they are and would be able to deliver an impressive response. Let the drones and the planes do their thing and let the foot soldier go back home and enjoy his freedom.

    June 9, 2010 at 7:23 am | Report abuse |
  10. Alan

    Are you joking, "perfectly"? How about the 3,000 lives lost in NY on SEPT11? Before we get into a battle over whose lose musters the greatest amount of moral superiority. Maybe we should acknowlege that the majority of people want to live in peace and live with their families without the worry of being killed. Turn your anger towards the politicians who war monger – whichever side of the fence they are on!

    June 9, 2010 at 6:58 am | Report abuse |
  11. Ziad

    Shif.....you summed it up perfectly!

    June 9, 2010 at 6:26 am | Report abuse |
  12. Shif

    When one white man is jailed for a crime you shed tears till revers get flowing and talk about justice. Imagine the families of those innocent Muslims in Guantenamo Bay Jail never been charged for any crime, imagine the familes of those killed by US and its allies in Iraq and Afganistan imagine the familes of those killed by Israel in Palestine. Dont they have a HEART? Dont they deserve JUSTICE? shame on you

    June 9, 2010 at 6:13 am | Report abuse |
  13. Ryan Hurley

    i love how this has turned into a debate about what kind of country afghanistan is. why argue over facts? verify them or let it go.

    what concerns me is where is G4S in all this. This meddling company has lots of issues in Africa, where I'm currently working. If they told him to pay this "bribe," then where is their legal team? Why is his family there instead of them?

    June 9, 2010 at 5:55 am | Report abuse |
  14. John

    to be honest to you guys, We have invaded those poor people they never invaded us if our soldiers are killed its all because of our stupidity for voting a stupid and careless person (Bush) anyways may god bring peace in all countries of the world including US.

    Afghans are a lot better then us at least they are trying to stop corruption while us we send people to promise them money and ask them to sell us their faiths. shame on all of us.

    June 9, 2010 at 5:54 am | Report abuse |
    • Belle

      What planet are you on? You should get yourself over to Afghanistan ASAP and live there. see how far you get.

      June 9, 2010 at 6:08 am | Report abuse |
  15. DAN

    Putting Shaw in a prison with the taliban is like putting a black man in prison with the kkk!

    June 9, 2010 at 5:34 am | Report abuse |
  16. AmerrBrit

    This guy was asked and authorised to make a payment from the security company he works for the return of two company vechiles. There are corrupt people the world over for sure, but is this guy really corrupt? I think it's a pretty safe bet that in this case it sounds far more pluasable that the Afghan intelligence official and legal system that put him in prision is corrupt!!! He even went on several occasions to ask for receipts for the payment... how many corrupt people making payments would do that?.. yep none!

    As the video peice rightly said, his company colleagues will be all to aware how so easily it could have been any of them sentenced for this farce of a sentance. At the very worst the company should be paying the price not this indivdual... if this even is an offence.

    William Shaw should be released imediately and more diploymancy needs to be done to ensure this happens!!!

    I support his release!

    June 9, 2010 at 5:33 am | Report abuse |
  17. Ian

    Yes we could leave Afghanistan, but it will once again become a training ground for Al Qaeda and will be used to launch attacks against the West. The problem is that those people want world domination. They use Israel as an excuse to attack Western countries, but if it wasn't Israel it would be something else. There are only two choices available to us – we try our best to sort it out to a reasonable degree, whihc is happening at the moment or we destroy the place completely. The second option would be much easier, but we would be reducing ouselves to their level. The West does have a vast technological superiority, and we could totally obliterate the entire hostile Islamic world, but we won't because we are that much better than they are in every way possible. I understand that Islamic and in particular Arab countries suffer from a sense of inferiority and it is totally justified – they are totally inferior in every way. In reality we have little to be afraid of with their terrorism and general belligerance because "Allah" does not bless them with the brains or technoloogy to achieve theri aims. The only technology they have they borrow from the sucessful West.

    June 9, 2010 at 4:20 am | Report abuse |
    • Shif

      the moment you lose your so called technology what esls have you got to boast about. nothing. no faith. the reality is its the evil trying to take over world and the truth trying to free itself from the misguided west

      June 9, 2010 at 6:19 am | Report abuse |
  18. ahmed

    I think the u.s should cut their losses and leave those countries,further stay will only cause more human losses on both sides.the victims are the soldiers and indigenes that are lost because of a futile war.and the contractor in afghanistan shld be given a fair hearing in consonance with the laws of the land.

    June 9, 2010 at 1:31 am | Report abuse |
  19. Iraq Paramedic

    May GOD wrap his protection around William Shaw & may GOD's justice prevail on those who falsely accuse & imprison him. Please GOD be with William & his family & comfort & protect them. In JESUS CHRIST's name I pray, AMEN.
    May GOD Bless & keep us all !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    June 9, 2010 at 1:08 am | Report abuse |
    • Ian

      God doesn't exist. But if you want to see him locked up forever just continue...

      June 9, 2010 at 4:39 am | Report abuse |
    • cain

      keep praying, maybe he will end up get stoned at a party. stoning party. stone.

      June 11, 2010 at 6:03 pm | Report abuse |
  20. bill vinton

    I served with Bill in the early eighties...he is my youngest daughters' godparent...his integrity and honesty are beyond question.

    June 8, 2010 at 11:27 pm | Report abuse |
  21. A O Perrault

    Free Wiilliam Shaw MBE

    June 8, 2010 at 4:44 pm | Report abuse |
  22. bev hussien

    i support the mission to free Shaw.

    June 8, 2010 at 4:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ian

      What mission? how can we join?

      June 9, 2010 at 4:29 am | Report abuse |