Moazzam Begg, a British citizen who was held at Guantanamo Bay for three years with no charge, was barred from boarding an Air Canada flight to Toronto today. Omar Khadr’s defense attorney, Dennis Edney, had invited Begg to speak at a conference on fear and justice in Toronto on Saturday as well as other events in Quebec and Edmonton later this week.
The Canadian Press reports that the Canadian High Commission refused permission on the basis the plane could be re-routed to the U.S. Edney contacted the high commission and was told to contact the US embassy. Edney told theToronto Star that a Canadian foreign affairs official informed him that Begg was denied entry due to a “U.S. policy.”
Begg was released from Guantanamo Bay in 2005 and is one of the most high profile advocates for the people currently imprisoned there. He wrote a book, Enemy Combatant: A British Muslim’s Journey To Guantanamo and Back (ISBN 0-7432-8567-0), is a director ofCageprisoners, and has given many interviews and lectures, written articles, and appeared as a commentator on BBC’s Panorama, BBC’s Newsnight, PBS’s The Prisoner, Al-Jazeera’s Prisoner, Taking Liberties, Torturing Democracy, and National Geographic’s Guantanamo’s Secrets, traveling throughout the world to do so. He has never been charged with anything. He was released by the US.
“I’m being invited to a conference with lawyers, and it’s about community relations, so it would seem odd not to allow me in,” Begg told the Toronto Star. “But I guess it’s North America and North America is different from the rest of the world when it comes to these issues.”