Skip to main content

Lost in translation: Moazzam Begg reveals intelligence blunders

The case against Begg 'was going to set a precedent that successfully challenged Britain’s policy on Syria and the meaning of terrorism'
A police forensic tent is seen in the garden of a house in Birmingham, central England on 25 February, 2014 where former Guantanamo Bay detainee Moazzam Begg was arrested (AFP)

A series of what appears to be translation mistakes and failure to grasp common sense by intelligence services have cost the British government over £1 million and could have landed an innocent man in jail, revealed former Guantanamo Bay detainee Moazzam Begg.

In an opinion column published in the Middle East Eye on Tuesday, Begg, who is currently the director of outreach for UK-based campaigning organisation CAGE, detailed what appears to be unprofessional methods of investigation by the Counter Terrorism Unit (CTU).

"I could have been facing up to 15 years in prison for providing fitness training and a generator to the Syrian rebels, if found guilty," he wrote.

Begg was further astonished to learn how serious were the accusations levelled against him, given what seemed to be a lack of credible evidence.

"Over 150 police officers were involved. Additionally, the Home Office, the Treasury, the intelligence services and Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) had gone to extraordinary lengths to refuse me bail, freeze my assets and classify me as a Category A high-risk prisoner in HMP Belmarsh, five hours away from home," he wrote.

It remains unclear why the authorities went to so much trouble when Begg posed no threat, nor was he involved in any wrongdoing. But he did hint in the article the reason for his release.

"The truth is the case was going to collapse on its own merits and was going to set a precedent that successfully challenged Britain’s policy on Syria and the meaning of terrorism," he wrote.

"The CPS didn’t care about my beliefs, even though they had recorded them, because they needed the charges to fit their narrative and not the truth," he added.

Stay informed with MEE's newsletters

Sign up to get the latest alerts, insights and analysis, starting with Turkey Unpacked

Middle East Eye delivers independent and unrivalled coverage and analysis of the Middle East, North Africa and beyond. To learn more about republishing this content and the associated fees, please fill out this form. More about MEE can be found here.