It is shocking to learn that former Guantanamo prisoner Moazzam Begg has been arrested in the UK. Begg, who had gone to Afghanistan to do humanitarian work, fled to Pakistan with his family when the US invaded, and was rounded up in that indiscriminate arrest of people to populate Dick Cheney’s torture center in Guantanamo,
The Birmingham Mail of the UK said:
“He is being held on suspicion of attending a terrorist training camp and facilitating terrorism overseas.
“He had his passport confiscated in December  and reportedly visited Syria in 2012.
“He claims he was told that it was ‘not in the public interest’ for him to keep his passport after returning from South Africa after commemorating the death of Nelson Mandela.
“The Home Office used Royal Prerogative power to seize the passport.
“Speaking after the confiscation Mr Begg said he believed the Home Office was trying to discredit him after he gave evidence to an inquiry into Britain’s alleged complicity in rendition and torture.”
Moazzam Begg, pictured above, has never done anything but humanitarian work for people in some of the most dangerous places in the world. The perfectly ridiculous “attending a terrorist training camp” and “facilitating terrorism” charges came from US records extorted from other Guantanamo prisoners under torture and long discredited. There are no facts to support this. What is known is that Moazzam Begg has done and continues to do humanitarian work for people in dangerous and war torn places.
The Birmingham Mail also said: “in recent years [Begg] has been a campaigner with the group Caged, which campaigns for those it says are unfairly targeted by the west’s war on terror.”
Here is a link to CAGE, the publication of the organization Begg works for with an article by him on this matter: http://www.cageuk.org/
Below is the complete text of the press release about the arrest from CAGE:
“(London) CAGE is outraged by the arrest of our Outreach Director, Moazzam Begg. A former Guantanamo Bay detainee, he has been campaigning for due process and the human rights of victims, despite suffering over three years of torture and abuse by the US government with the complicity of the British security services.
“This latest action is designed to ensure that any travel to Syria is deemed suspicious. It follows a concerted campaign of harassment against Muslim individuals and charities involved in providing humanitarian aid to the victims of the Syrian crisis. Moazzam Begg is just the latest individual drawn by the humanitarian catastrophe in Syria who has been labelled a terrorist .The purpose is to intimidate and vilify the wider Muslim community so that they are prevented from delivering much needed aid to the Syrian people.
“Moazzam is an internationally recognised figure on issues relating to due process and human rights. His advocacy on behalf of the Guantanamo Bay detainees has been recognised across the world, resulting in various governments accepting detainees who could not be returned to their countries of origin.
“Cerie Bullivant, Media Officer of CAGE said:
‘“Moazzam has been very open about his international travel and his objectives, including importantly exposing British complicity in rendition and torture. The timing of Moazzam‘s arrest given his travel to Syria took place in December 2012 requires a detailed explanation. The timing coincides with the planned release of a CAGE report on Syria and a major news piece that was due to be televised soon. As with David Miranda it seems those who are engaged in exposing abuse of powers are targeted and smeared to prevent disclosure of vital evidence.’
‘“We are also concerned that the Police and the security services are using the wide scope of terrorism laws, and applying them in Syria to set precedents that will make legitimate activity unlawful in future.’
“Asim Qureshi, Research Director of CAGE said:
‘“CAGE calls on all defenders of civil liberties and the rule of law to stand up and protest against the serious curtailment of yet another victim. The message may be unpalatable to those who wish to shroud their abuse in secrecy but that can never justify an attack on the messengers.’
“We are disgusted that Moazzam Begg is being retraumatised with the same guilt by association accusations that resulted in his unlawful incarceration in Guantanamo Bay. We fully support our colleague and see his arrest as politically motivated and as part of a campaign to criminalise legitimate activism.”
See previous posts on this blog about Moazzam Begg here and here.