UK holds ex-Gitmo detainee over Syria trip

Moazzam Begg, suspected of "terrorism" activity in Syria, told Al Jazeera he had informed UK authorities about visit.

    A former Guantanamo Bay detainee has been arrested by British police on suspicions that he took part in "terrorist" training camps during visits to Syria.

    Moazzam Begg, who was released 10 years ago from a Gitmo detention centre after serving three years there without charge, was detained in the city of Birmingham on Tuesday on accusations of facilitating terrorism overseas.

    He strenuously denies the allegations, saying he even notified British authorities about his trip to Syria.

    Begg, a well-known activist, was among four Britons arrested. All those in custody and their houses are being searched by special forensic officers.

    Days before his arrest, in an exclusive interview with Al Jazeera, Begg said that he was very open to British authorities about the trips he took to Syria and had even had a meeting with an agent from the UK's intelligence service, the MI5, to discuss the visit and to ensure that it would cause no problems.

    "Eventually, we arranged a meeting where both MI5 lawyers were present and so were mine. We spoke about potential threats to the UK from British citizens going to Syria. They were convinced there were no tangible, existential threat to Britain from people going to Syria and they certainly had no problem with me going there so I returned on my second trip with their full knowledge and returned after that and remained fine and travelling until ten months after the fact when my passport was taken away," he said.

    His colleagues are also adamant that the arrest had little to do with his Syria trips and more to do with his campaigning work which involves helping those who have experienced extraordinary rendition and been tortured and imprisoned as a result.

    Begg had spent the nine years since he was freed from Guantanamo Bay campaigning on behalf of other detainees, appearing on TV stations in the UK and beyond, including on Al Jazeera.

    He has become a voice to represent those who say they were tortured, intimidated, threatened with death during their incarceration.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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