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London – As revealed exclusively in today’s Guardian, former Guantanamo Bay prisoner and current CAGE Outreach Director has launched judicial review proceedings against the Home Office’s abuse of power by denying him a passport over the last 8 years. This had the effect of hindering his cutting edge investigative work, prevented him from visiting and attending family functions and denied him the ability to lecture on countless platforms across the world despite receiving regular invitations. 

The seizure of his passport has occurred three times over the last 17 years, each time no evidence was ever produced to justify this punitive action. The Home Office has the power to arbitrarily deny a person a passport, effectively restricting their freedom of movement. This mirrors the manner that the Home Office can deprive an individual of their citizenship with complete impunity. Likewise in both cases, there is no effective right to appeal.

This month marks two decades since Guantanamo Bay was opened, yet it seems that the British government has allowed its dark shadow to continue haunting Mr. Begg, and has been complicit in his continued harassment over the last two decades.

 

Moazzam Begg, CAGE Outreach Director said:

“On the 1st September last year I was overjoyed to finally receive my new passport after having it revoked 8 years ago following a trip to South Africa. I could finally travel for crucial work investigations and attend my daughter’s wedding party. But those hopes were short-lived. Three weeks later, I received a letter from the passport office saying it had been “issued in error” and that it was still revoked. Laughably, the covering letter sent to me was incorrectly addressed to someone who’d been convicted for passport fraud in the north of England.” 

“I’ve been held without charge in three military prisons, arrested three times by counter terror police and had my passport revoked three times over the past two decades. And yet, I have never been convicted of any crimes or had my day in court.” 

“I conclude that a combination of malice, indifference and gross incompetence has led the government to this point but its enough. It’s time to fight back – again.”

Yvonne Ridley, broadcaster, journalist and author, said:

“I’d like to call on the British Government to end the harassment of Moazzam Begg. It makes the UK look incredibly weak to target him in this manner. A passport is not a privilege, it is a right. Do the right thing and return his passport and move on. This persecution he is enduring is the sort of thing that evil and brutal regimes do.”

 

Clive Stafford Smith OBE, human rights lawyer and co-founder of the NGO Reprieve, said: 

“I had the privilege, when Moazzam Begg was in Guantanamo Bay, to represent him. That is where I learnt for the first time, the horrendous abuse he went through and the dreadful things the United States did to him. I’ve known Moazzam for 20 years, he’s become a close friend and I respect him immensely.”

“I very much want to work with him on a number of human rights projects around the world but that’s made the much more difficult because he doesn’t have his passport, which is unconscionable. Moazzam has been a force for peace and a force for good for many years now, he needs to be given his passport back.”

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(NOTE: CAGE represents cases of individuals based on the remit of our work. Supporting a case does not mean we agree with the views or actions of the individual. Content published on CAGE may not reflect the official position of our organisation.)