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SACC statement on the decision to charge Moazzam Begg

Moazzam Begg

Statement from SACC

SACC is shocked to hear that Moazzam Begg has been charged with providing terrorist training and funding terrorism overseas.

Moazzam Begg is a former Guantánamo prisoner and is Outreach Director of human rights group CAGE. Prior to his arrest, he had been researching British involvement in torture overseas.

SACC has been campaigning for many years for the repeal of the terrorism legislation under which Moazzam Begg has been charged. This legislation is politically charged and lends itself to being used in a discriminatory way. We do not believe that charges brought under Britain's terrorism laws ever serve the interests of justice. People should be charged under the ordinary criminal law, or they should not be charged at all.

Now that charges have been brought, it would not be right to discuss the specific allegations against Moazzam Begg. That is for a court to do.

For some important background, see our earlier statement:
SACC calls for the release of Moazzam Begg

But this case was never about the detailed nature of the allegations. It is an attempt to stifle dissent by making an example of a high-profile figure. Irrespective of the merits or otherwise of this particular case, SACC will work to defend freedom of expression and to ensure that dissent remains alive and well.

Moazzam Begg has already suffered torture at US hands through his solitary confinement at Guantánamo and through other forms of abuse. He is a brave man, but like everyone who has endured that sort of treatment he must inevitably have been traumatised by it. It is absolutely unacceptable that he is now behind bars again.

Richard Haley, Chair of SACC said:

"The purpose of torture is to destroy the capacity of individuals and the communities they come from to act constructively or to offer resistance. Despite all the attention given to the supposed intelligence-gathering role of Guantánamo and the merits or otherwise of intelligence obtained through torture, the primary function of the US torture regime was just the same as that of every other torture regime: to break minds and communities.

"The police, the intelligence services and the legal system in Britain are now continuing the work of the torturers of Bagram and Guantánamo. This has to stop."

SACC campaigned for the release of Moazzam Begg when he was held at Guantánamo Bay. We will continue to support him now. We will also continue to campaign for those responsible for Britain's collusion in torture to be held to account, and for steps to be taken to ensure that nothing of that sort can happen again.

SACC joins with CAGE in calling for an early date to be set for Moazzam Begg's trial.