Cleared ex-Guantanamo inmate barred from flight
A former Guantanamo inmate, who was released without charged in 2005, was denied boarding on an Air Canada plane from London to Toronto for allegedly posing a security risk, his lawyer said Saturday.
Moazzam Begg, a British human rights activist, was scheduled to speak at a conference on Islamophobia in a Toronto suburb at the invitation of his attorney Dennis Edney, who also currently provides legal counsel to Omar Khadr, a Canadian held at Guantanamo.
Shortly before embarking on the flight Friday, airline authorities told Begg that the Canadian High Commission in London refused to allow him to fly because "the plane could be rerouted to the United States."
Edney contacted the High Commission, which advised him simply that "these are US guidelines." He says he also tried, in vain, to contact Canada's Immigration Minister Jason Kenney.
But Begg was never formally charged or tried for terror crimes in Guantanamo, the United States or Britain.
He was held at the US naval base in southern Cuba from January 2003 to January 2005.
US authorities suspected Begg at the time of recruiting people to join Al-Qaeda at training camps, and of donating funds to the group.
Begg was among the first detainees to be released from the facility without charge, and has since become an outspoken activist on Guantanamo detainee rights.
He is the director of Cageprisoners, a rights group with a mission to "raise awareness of the plight of the prisoners at Guantanamo Bay and other detainees held as part of the war on terror."
© 2011 AFP