By Isabel Ringrose
Downloading PDF. Please wait... Issue 2788

Former Guantanamo detainee Moazzam Begg to take legal action against Home Office

Issue 2788
Moazzam Begg speaks at a demo

Moazzam Begg has fought for justice (Picture: Garry Knight on Flickr)

Former Guantanamo Bay detainee Moazzam Begg is planning to launch legal action against the Home Office to restore his British passport.

Moazzam’s passport was first revoked after his release from Guantanamo, the US prison camp on Cuba, in 2005. It was then taken from him eight years ago—and taken again at the end of last year just weeks after being reinstated.

In Guantanamo, Moazzam was held without trial or charge and tortured for three years. Since his release, he has been harassed by British spooks, the Home Office and government.

Moazzam told Socialist Worker his experience has been “unbelievable”. He slammed the Tories, saying they’re either “lying, or deeply incompetent, or both”. “I’ve had my passport revoked three times in the past 15 years,” he said.

“I’ve been put in three military prison camps and been arrested by anti-terror police three times.

“I’ve not had my day in court, I’ve not been convicted of any crime.”

In fact, Moazzam has been declared innocent of crimes that led to his passport being taken.

Moazzam, who works with advocacy group Cage, was arrested in February 2002 in Pakistan and given to US forces. While held in the prison, British and US officers interrogated him. He was released in 2005.

He then travelled to Syria in 2012 and 2013. Before his second visit, Moazzam was told by M15 spooks that he was free to travel.

Yet his passport was again taken in December 2013 after returning from South Africa.

Moazzam applied for a new passport in 2019. It was issued in September 2021 and revoked weeks later. His treatment, Moazzam says, is the government “doing more of what it does—harassment and disruption”.

The letter informing Moazzam that his passport had again been revoked was incorrectly addressed to a woman in northern England. She had been convicted of passport fraud.

“It’s highly incompetent, vindictive and malicious,” Moazzam said.

Moazzam thinks he is being treated this way because he’s been attempting to hold the state to account for over 15 years. “MI5 were involved in my torture,” he said.

“But having given evidence to the police about the role of the US and Britain in the torture of prisoners, there has been no accountability.

“The government has avoided any prosecution and accountability. Anyone who seeks to hold them to account is punished.

“I’ve been put through the worst they could—they physically, racially and religiously abused me. They beat people to death in front of me. But I keep trying to hold them to account.”

So fighting for his passport, Moazzam said, “Is a relative walk in the park.”

Moazzam’s lawyers sent a letter to the Home Office and Passport Office with notice of the legal action. With no reply, he will launch an application for judicial review if the government doesn’t act.

“Criminal behaviour is not just on the streets,” he added. “It happens within governments, among leaders, prime ministers and cabinet ministers. When they act criminally, they should be held to account.

“They try to use the concept of people not adhering to so-called ‘British values’. One of their own values they repeatedly flaunt is the rule of law.

“Torture and false imprisonment are crimes. Clearly the government doesn’t believe in the rule of law—otherwise there wouldn’t be a set for them and one for everyone else.”

“It doesn’t matter to them I can’t attend the marriage of my daughter or do investigations that show clearly the government was involved with war crimes. Which I intend to continue,” he added.

“The tide is with us. The mood is you can’t trust people in power.”

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