UK prosecutors drop terrorism charges against former Guantanamo detainee

UK prosecutors drop terrorism charges against former Guantanamo detainee

[JURIST] The UK’s Crown Prosecution Service [official website] on Wednesday dropped terrorism charges against Moazzam Begg [Guardian backgrounder], a former Guantanamo Bay detainee who was arrested on suspicion of terrorism offenses related to the war in Syria [JURIST backgrounders]. Begg was scheduled to stand trial next Monday for charges including the funding and training of terrorist activities, but last-minute evidence was determined to undermine the prosecutors’ case. While the police have defended his arrest, Begg accused authorities of demonizing the Muslim community. Begg was in prison for seven months following his arrest and has become an outspoken advocate [JURIST report] for the rights of terror suspects.

British police counter-terrorism forces announced the arrest of Begg [JURIST report] in February in his hometown of Birmingham, England, along with three other individuals. Begg was a detainee at Guantanamo, and he was one of the last detainees from the UK to be returned. British authorities have expressed concern [NYT report] about their citizens fighting in jihadist groups in Syria, and Begg is the most high profile arrestee in connection with the UK’s attempt to minimize influence in the Syrian conflict. The police reported Begg is suspected [Guardian report] of attending a terrorist training camp and facilitating terrorism overseas. According to British counter-terrorism laws, the police are authorized to detain Begg for up to 14 days, and police will conduct a search of the arrestee’s vehicles and electronic devices. In 2002 Begg was arrested in Pakistan, and he was one of a small group of UK nationals detained at Guantanamo Bay until 2005.