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A FORMER Guantanamo Bay prisoner is planning to take the British government to court in a bid to have his passport restored after it was stripped from him eight years ago.
Moazzam Begg (pictured) claims he has been subjected to “systematic harassment” by the government after having his passport revoked three times in the last 17 years, as well as facing terrorism charges in a case that later collapsed.
The former detainee, who works for advocacy group Cage, says the Home Office’s decision has prevented him carrying out his work overseas and visiting family.
Mr Begg said of his decision to launch an application for judicial review: “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 it’s enough. It’s time to fight back — again.”
Mr Begg’s passport was revoked for the first time in 2005, the same year he was released without charge from Guantanamo Bay where he was tortured by the US
The document was restored in 2009 but then stripped again in 2013 following two trips he made to Syria.
Mr Begg said the visits were part of his campaign work and that he had met MI5 officers beforehand who made it clear he was free to travel to the country.
Despite this, Mr Begg was later arrested on terror charges relating to the trips and held for seven months in Belmarsh before the case collapsed. Police accepted in 2014 that he was innocent.
Reprieve co-founder and human rights lawyer Clive Stafford Smith, who represented Mr Begg when he was held in Guantanamo Bay, said it was “unconscionable” that the Home Office had refused to restore his passport eight years on.
“Moazzam has been a force for peace and a force for good for many years now, he needs to be given his passport back,” he said.
An HM Passport Office spokesperson said it would be inappropriate to comment on the case while it considers its response to the legal action.
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