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Hagley campaigner speaks out over ex-Guantanamo inmate's arrest
3:47pm Wednesday 26th February 2014 in Local
A HAGLEY human rights campaigner is urging the public not to "jump the gun" in judging a former Guantanamo Bay inmate who was arrested on Tuesday on terrorism charges.
Moazzam Begg, who was held in the US-run Cuban camp for nearly three years, was among four people from the West Midlands arrested on suspicion of Syria related terrorism offences.
The 45-year-old from Hall Green, Birmingham, has been accused of attending a terrorist training camp and facilitating terrorism overseas.
Dr David Nicholl, from Hagley, who has met Mr Begg numerous times - most recently last month at a Birmingham event marking the 12th anniversary of Guantanamo Bay, took to Twitter to call for "no wild media speculation" following the arrest.
And he added: "The Uk is not #gitmo lets just see if there are any charges. @Moazzam_Begg is a friend of mine who hasn't been charged w/ a dicky bird in 9y."
Dr Nicholl, who has long campaigned for the release of Brits held in Guantanamo, also told the News: "My view is wait and see. I'm a bit suspicious as to why he's been named and no-one else has. I would not jump the gun."
Mr Begg was arrested along with a 36-year-old man from Shirley, and a 44-year-old woman and her 20-year-old son, both from Sparkhill, Birmingham, who were detained on suspicion of facilitating terrorism overseas.
Detective Superintendent Shaun Edwards, head of investigations for West Midlands Counter Terrorism Unit, said all four arrests were connected.
A West Midlands Police spokesman said Mr Begg's name was confirmed due to "anticipated high public interest" but its release did "not imply any guilt".
Birmingham-born Mr Begg moved to Afghanistan with his family in 2001 before taking them to Pakistan in 2002 when the war began.
He was detained in Islamabad, Pakistan, in January 2002 and taken to the Bagram internment centre for about a year before being transferred to Guantanamo.
He was later released along with three others in January 2005 and allowed to return to the UK.
Mr Begg, an outreach director for campaign group CAGE which helps people detained during counter terrorism operations, has always maintained he has only been involved in charity work and never any kind of terrorist activity.
CAGE published a statement on its website saying it was "outraged" over Mr Begg's arrest, which it claims is politically motivated.