Ex-Guantanamo detainee Moazzam Begg restored Britain’s ‘passport facilities’ | Moazzam Begg
A former Guantánamo Bay detainee has been told he can get a British passport again after the document was taken from him eight years ago after two trips to Syria.
Moazzam Begg’s application for a new passport was rejected in September 2021, even though a terrorism prosecution linked to his stay in Syria collapsed in 2014, after which police said they had found his innocence.
In January of this year, Begg, frustrated by the delays, launched a judicial review. But he has now received correspondence from the Home Office, dated May 27 and seen by the Guardian, advising him that Home Secretary Priti Patel has decided ‘passport facilities can be restored’ and that he can apply for a passport if he wishes.
Begg previously said he would like to travel to visit his daughter in Turkey, whose wedding he was unable to attend.
Begg was arrested in February 2002 in Pakistan, handed over to US forces and detained at Bagram in Afghanistan before being transferred to Guantánamo Bay. While in custody, he was questioned by British and American intelligence agents, but was released without charge in 2005.
The trips to Syria took place in 2012 and 2013, at a time when armed resistance to Bashar al-Assad’s regime was beginning with various groups, but before the public emergence of the Islamic State in 2014.
Prior to his second visit, Begg said he was contacted by MI5. He told them he was trying to investigate the alleged role of the Security Service in collaborating with the Assad regime in a rendition program, as part of his campaign activity.
After the conversation, Begg said he met an MI5 officer and a lawyer at an east London hotel in October 2012. He said security service representatives made it clear he was free to go. in Syria, where he remained in opposition territory near Aleppo until April. 2013.
However, his passport was taken from him in December 2013 as he returned to the UK after a trip to South Africa.
Shortly after, he was arrested for terrorism offences. A year later, the prosecution’s case collapsed, undermined by secret material handed over to the CPS.
Begg applied for a passport again in 2019. One was briefly issued in September 2021 but was revoked four weeks later. The email revoking her passport was dated 2017 and addressed to a woman accused of passport fraud. The Ministry of the Interior did not provide any explanation.
In January, Begg’s lawyers sent a letter to the Home Office and the Passport Office advising them of legal action to overturn the decision.