the head of an Islamic pressure group linked to one of Lee Rigby’s murderers has been stripped of his passport amid claims that he is involved in terrorism.
Moazzam Begg, a former inmate of Guantanamo Bay, was stopped at Heathrow Airport last week after returning from a visit to South Africa.
He was told that it was ‘not in the public interest’ for him to keep his passport as the Home Office suspected him of being involved in terrorist activities following his visit to Syria last year.
The move came two days before Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale were convicted. Mr Begg’s group, CagePrisoners, had been working with Adebolajo and his family.
The killer had gone to the charity’s East London headquarters last year to seek assistance, complaining that he and his brother Jeremiah were being harassed by the security services.
However, as The Mail on Sunday revealed in June, MI6 paid Jeremiah thousands of pounds as part of spying operations in the Middle East.
Last night Mr Begg said he believed the Home Office was trying to discredit him after he gave evidence to an inquiry into Britain’s alleged complicity in rendition and torture - and that his passport seizure had nothing to do with the Woolwich murders.
‘I didn’t meet him [Adebolajo], it was other people at CagePrisoners who met him,’ he said.
‘I have consistently been asking for the intelligence and security services to be held to account for complicity in torture and rendition. It is more logical that is the reason I’ve had my passport confiscated.’
Mr Begg said that he gave evidence to Sir Peter Gibson, who last week concluded that British agents had turned a ‘blind eye’ to the torture of detainees in foreign jails.
Mr Begg told The Mail on Sunday that he was stopped after returning from South Africa to commemorate the death of Nelson Mandela. He said he was pulled to one side by two plainclothes security officials who said that ‘having a passport was not a right and that they were using Royal Prerogative powers to take it away’.
MI6 connection: Mail on Sunday story from June
A Home Office order given to Mr Begg stated that it was not in the public interest for him to have a passport as he had been assessed as being involved in terrorist activity because of his Syria visit.
But Mr Begg told The Mail on Sunday that he had visited Aleppo to investigate the rendition and torture of Syrian and other nationals, gathering evidence against the UK and America.
He said the visit had been cleared by MI5, who thanked him for telling them about it and assured him that he would have no trouble visiting Syria.
The Home Office declined to comment on an individual case, but said the Royal Prerogative power ‘disrupts individuals who seek to travel on a British passport to engage in terrorism-related or other serious criminal activity abroad which impacts on the UK’.