Amnesty International’s Guantanamo Poster Child Detained in Britain

Moazzam Begg speaks at Amnesty International's 'Poems from Guantanamo' event / AP

Moazzam Begg speaks at Amnesty International's 'Poems from Guantanamo' event / AP


British authorities have arrested an ex-Guantanamo detainee—who was held up as a human rights icon by Amnesty International—on suspicions of facilitating terrorism in Syria.

Amnesty, a human rights group, starting working with British-Pakistani citizen Moazzam Begg in 2005 after he was released from the Guantanamo Bay detention facility. The group treated Begg as a poster child of the alleged maltreatment of detained terrorists by U.S. authorities, according to the Wall Street Journal:

Amnesty ignored that Mr. Begg had written of his admiration for the Taliban. Nor was Amnesty bothered that, alongside his “human-rights” work, Mr. Begg was conducting fawning interviews with al Qaeda propagandists such as the late terrorist imam Anwar al-Awlaki.

In 2010, Gita Sahgal, who at the time headed Amnesty’s gender unit, broke ranks by making public her opposition to promoting the views of “Britain’s most famous supporter of the Taliban.” Amnesty responded by suspending Ms. Sahgal, and she was eventually pushed out. “I don’t see Amnesty International and other human rights organizations coming to grips with the fact that their research and campaigning have been tainted” by their association with Mr. Begg, Ms. Saghal told us this week. In a statement, Amnesty told us that its “relationship with Moazzam Begg was as a victim of human-rights violations.” It added that “everyone has the right to be presumed innocent until they are charged and proven guilty in a fair trial.”

Begg has since been charged with providing terrorist training and funding in Syria.

An Amnesty official said in 2010 that the group did not believe “jihad in self-defense” was “antithetical to human rights.”