• Tuesday, September 27, 2022

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Former Guantánamo detainee plans legal action to restore British passport

FILE PHOTO: Former Guantanamo Bay detainee British citizen Moazzam Begg arrives at Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London on September 25, 2017. (Photo by DANIEL LEAL/AFP via Getty Images)

By: Pramod Thomas

A former Guantánamo detainee is planning to sue the UK home secretary Priti Patel to restore his British passport, the Guardian reported.

Moazzam Begg’s application for a new passport was rejected in September 2021.

According to the report, a terror prosecution relating to his time in Syria collapsed in 2014, and police said they accepted he was innocent.

Begg, who works with the Cage advocacy group, has said that he felt he had little choice but to apply for a judicial review to restore passport.

His group campaigns to help people caught up in the “war on terror”.

“I’ve met with leaders of countries and government ministers; the police have said I’m innocent, but all of that seems to count for nothing. When I met with Ken Clarke, the justice secretary, when the Guantánamo cases were settled [in November 2010], he said he would like to turn over the page, but that doesn’t seem to be the case,” Begg was quoted as saying by the Guardian.

Now, he wishes to visit his daughter in Turkey, whose marriage he couldn’t attend and to return to Bagram in Afghanistan, where he was held for a year before being moved to Guantánamo.

Begg was arrested in February 2002 in Pakistan, handed to US forces, and detained at Bagram before being moved to Guantánamo Bay.

During his detention, he was interrogated by British and US intelligence officers but released without charge in 2005, the Guardian report added.

The trips to Syria took place in 2012 and 2013, before the public emergence of Daesh in 2014.

Before his second visit, Begg said he was contacted by MI5. According to him, he met an MI5 officer and a lawyer at an east London hotel in October 2012. He said Security Service representatives made it clear that he was free to travel to Syria, where he stayed in opposition territory near Aleppo until April 2013.

The newspaper reported that his passport was taken from him in December 2013, as he returned to the UK from a trip to South Africa.

Shortly after he was arrested on terror offences. A year later the prosecution case collapsed.

Begg applied again for a passport in 2019. One was briefly issued in September 2021 but revoked four weeks later. The email revoking his passport was dated 2017 and addressed to a woman accused of passport fraud.

Last month, Begg’s lawyers sent a letter to the Home Office and the Passport Office putting them on notice of legal action in an attempt to get the decision overturned.

The Guardian report said that his team plan to launch an application for judicial review soon, supported by a crowdfunding campaign.

Begg said that he believed the government’s actions showed it did not consider him a full citizen.

Eastern Eye

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