Written by Student Rights on 2 February 2012 at 2pm

Moazzam Begg gets a free ride at Aston University

This evening ex- Guantanamo Bay detainee Moazzam Begg will be speaking at Aston University alongside the James Yee, a former military chaplain at the camp who has since written a highly critical book about his time there. Begg, who continues to campaign for the release of those still imprisoned, will be presenting his views on the detention centre and then answering student’s questions.

Here at Student Rights we are keen that Begg should be asked a number of pertinent questions relating to a recent Wall Street Journal article which quotes handwritten admissions Begg made – under no duress – to his Combatant Status Review Board at Guantanamo Bay, in which he admits that he was “responsible for small arms and mountain tactics training” in training camps on the Afghan border in the late 1990s and funded Afghan training camps closely linked to al-Qaeda. Furthermore, in a 2010 interview, Begg admitted to fighting in Bosnia during the 1990s.

More importantly, we would also like to see Begg challenged about his role in keeping Shaker Aamer, the last British citizen in Guantanamo, behind bars. Since his return to the UK, Begg has campaigned for Aamer’s release, yet the author of the article has unearthed evidence that shows that at Guantanamo Aamer was condemned as a weapons-trained Al-Qaeda recruiter by none other than Begg himself.

This event highlights the problem that occurs when speakers are allowed to address an audience from an unbalanced platform where their assertions and opinions will not be challenged. Begg’s lack of consistency on this issue would undermine his legitimacy in a debate, yet Aston University will be providing him with free rein to eulogise about a man he himself condemned. We would urge any students interested in these issues to attend the event and put these questions to Begg directly.