Up close, Moazzam Begg is a short, rather shy man. When you speak to him he trembles slightly. Or he did when I last spoke to him. This could have been a product of nervous energy – we’d just finished taking part in a debate entitled “How Free Is Speech”, in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo killings. Or it could be the product of the two years he spent incarcerated in Guantanamo Bay.
In the eyes of both the US and British governments, Moazzam Begg has at various times been seen as a real and present danger to national security. According to the New York Times, when George Bush ordered his release from Guantanamo, “he did so over objections from the Pentagon, the CIA, and the FBI, all of which warned that Mr. Begg could still be a dangerous terrorist.” In 2014 he was arrested and charged in the UK with terrorism offences relating to the war in Syria. He was released seven months later when the CPS dropped the case due to lack of evidence.