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Legal Fiasco: British Prosecutors Fail to Charge ‘Gitmo Survivor’ Moazzam Begg with Terrorism

21st Century Wire says…

It would make a great legal comedy sketch, if wasn’t so real…

Today British prosecutors dropped seven ‘terrorism’ charges against former Guantanamo prison detainee, Moazzam Begg a week before the trial was set to begin. It was a major SNAFU for the bench.

How did they get it so wrong?

Prosecutor Christopher Hehir presided over one of the more embarrassing moments in Old Baily history, fumbling a high-profile political show trial at the eleventh hour. As it turns out, there was no case to begin with…


Moazzam Begg walks out Belmarsh Prison (Photo: PBS)

After “Secret intelligence material” was handed to prosecutors, prosecutor Hehir saw an exit strategy from a potential humiliation in court. Was that all it was?

Was it really intelligence material, or was it just a polite note from the Home Secretary or Cabinet Office, informing Hehir to kindly drop the matter?

Could the file in question have contained information about Begg’s role as a confidential informant?

These are questions the mainstream media will never ask, let alone tell. Unfortunately, we’ll never know because… it’s a secret.

How much did this whole fiasco cost the British taxpayer? Aside of the financial costs, the cost in terms of public loss of confidence is immeasurable.

Here’s the official narrative:

At first, British authorities may have thought they had a slam dunk because Begg had traveled to Syria. As it turned out, Begg had traveled there in a “human rights observer” capacity and regularly blogged about his trip. The reason the state came after Begg is anyone’s guess, but his is stance on Syria – which runs contrary to the British government’s own narrow stance of regime change and arming rebel terrorists in Syria – makes Begg seem like an easy target to frame for crimes seemingly invented by British authorities.

In February 2002 he was arrested by the ISI in Pakistan, then bartered off to the US military in Afghanistan, before languishing in Bagram prison, and later being illegally rendered by the infamous US off-shore torture camp at Guantánamo Bay. Once at Gitmo, he was illegally imprisoned without charge or trial and was interrogated by both British and US ‘intelligence’ officers. The Pentagon claimed that British citizen Begg was an enemy combatant and al-Qaeda member, but as with nearly every other detainee, failed to observe any due process or provide any compelling evidence that any their detainees were actual terrorists.

Begg was released in 2005, and currently works as an advocate with London-based rights group Cage Prisoners, defending terror suspects who are being denied their basic legal rights.

Another possibility:

For British authorities to think that such a high-profile ex-Gitmo prisoner would be dealing in terrorism in Syria shows that they were either overlooking the obvious, or were simply using Begg as an easy political target score. Unless of course, Moazam Begg is really a British intelligence informant and this media ruse was essential for him to maintain his cover and credibility with militants in the field. Why else would Begg be inside Syria, besides collecting intelligence for the CIA or MI6? Either way, it was a monumental waste of time and taxpayer resources.

This latest alleged “botched” terror trial appears to have dented public confidence in the state’s ability to be an honest dispenser of justice, although the entire production appears to have been staged. Begg made this statement to the press:

“The more this continues, the more it’s going to alienate people,” Begg said about his case. “I have to thank my lawyers; I have to thank my community. I have to thank my family and everybody who has been around me. They have been extremely supportive and I’m very pleased about that.”

 


Moazzam Begg to be freed as prosecutors drop terror charges

.
Ian Cobain

Guardian

The prosecution of former Guantánamo inmate Moazzam Begg has dramatically collapsed after the police and crown prosecutors were handed secret intelligence material which undermined the terrorism case against him.

Five days before Begg was due to go on trial on a string of terrorism charges, prosecutors announced at the Old Bailey on Wednesday that they had “recently become aware of relevant material” which obliged them to offer no evidence.

The judge entered a formal verdict of not guilty and ordered that Begg be set free immediately from Belmarsh high security prison.

Police sources said the decision was taken following the receipt of intelligence material two months ago, and the Crown Prosecution Service said in a statement: “If we had been made aware of all of this information at the time of charging, we would not have charged.”

Asked whether the information had been handed over by MI5 and, if so, how long the agency had possessed the material, the Home Office said it would inappropriate to comment, on the grounds that the decision to halt the prosecution had been taken by the police and CPS.

Begg had spent more than seven months in custody after being arrested and questioned over a trip he had made to Syria a year earlier. His friends say that the experience had been deeply traumatic.

The 46-year-old from Birmingham was facing seven charges of possessing a document for the purposes of terrorism funding and training, and attending a terrorism training camp. He denied all the charges.

Christopher Hehir, prosecuting, told the Old Bailey that the CPS had previously been satisfied that they possessed sufficient evidence to secure Begg’s prosecution. He added, however: “The prosecution have recently become aware of relevant material, in the light of which, after careful and anxious consideration, the conclusion has been reached that there is no longer a realistic prospect of conviction in this case. The prosecution therefore offers no evidence.”

Begg’s solicitor, Gareth Peirce, said he should never have been charged as his activities did not amount to terrorism. “This is a good man trying to do the right thing in a very difficult world,” she said.

“He is a rare individual who will talk to everyone and listen to everyone, even those with whom he profoundly disagrees. He has spent the near decade since he was released from the torture of Bagram and Guantánamo in attempting to wake the world up to injustice and to comprehend its causes and effects. There is nothing new that can have been discovered now that was not always crystal clear – that this is an innocent man.”

Begg had made no secret of a trip he had made to Syria, at one point writing about his experiences in an internet post. He was taken aback by his arrest, protesting that he had not been engaged in terrorism.

On appearing in court, he denied attending a terrorist training camp “knowing or believing instruction or training was provided there for the purposes of terrorism” between 9 October 2012 and 9 April 2013.

He had also denied five charges of possessing articles for purposes connected with terrorism between 31 December 2012 and 26 February 2014. Those counts related to electronic documents found on a laptop computer in his possession.

Begg had further denied being involved in a funding arrangement between 14 July 2013 and 26 February 2014 by making available a Honda generator…

Continue this story at the Guardian

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