Bahraini torture prince in London, British government does nothing


This video is called Bahrain, capital of torture.

From the Bahrain Institute for Rights & Democracy:

NGOs Call on Home Secretary to Remove Prince Nasser of Bahrain from the UK

London,  27 October 2014 –  The Bahrain Institute for Rights & Democracy (BIRD), Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB) and Redress UK expressed their disappointment to the UK Home Secretary last Friday 24 October, upon receiving information of Bahrain Prince Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa’s arrival in London for an appearance at the 2014 British Invention Show. In a letter to the Home Secretary Theresa May, the rights groups pointed to a decision made by the UK High Court earlier this month, which ruled to quash the Prince’s functional immunity in the UK due to impending accusations of torture against him.

The rights groups expressed further disappointment in the UK’s recent engagements with the Prince, referencing the Prince’s recent visit to a Royal British Navy transport dock last week and a meeting with the British Ambassador to Bahrain only two days after the Court’s decision was announced. Sayed Alwadaei, Director of Advocacy at BIRD expressed his concern over the recent UK attitude, asserting, “the UK government should not undermine the decision by the High Court which quashed the Prince’s immunity on serious torture allegations”.

The letter urges Ms. May to act in coordination with the recent decision by the UK High Court, claiming Prince Nasser’s presence in the UK in spite of these accusations, to be in contradiction with UK policy, specified by the HMG’s Human Rights and Democracy Report of 2012 that “where there is independent, reliable and credible evidence that an individual has committed human rights abuses they will not normally be permitted to enter the UK”. The rights groups called on May to arrange the removal of the Prince from UK territory and to impose a ban on his future travel to the UK. Husain Abdulla, Executive Director at ADHRB, echoed the call: “Due to impending accusations of torture, we urge UK Home Secretary Theresa May to advise an appropriate course of action for Prince Nasser’s expulsion from the UK.”

As Britain’s longest historical ally in the Middle East, UK policy towards Bahrain in spite of persistent violations of human rights in the country, has been a topic of ongoing criticism in past months. NGOs hope that a strong decision by the Home Secretary will relay an appropriate message to the government of Bahrain on Britain’s policy towards torture and torture perpetrators. Carla Ferstman, Director of Redress UK argues that “instead of allowing leaders of a regime notorious for torture to enter Britain at will, the UK Government ought to be putting maximum pressure on the Bahraini Government to stop torturing peaceful protestors, and to end impunity for torture. Britain should send a strong signal to the regime and exclude people like Prince Nasser from coming here”.

BIRD, ADHRB and Redress thus call together on the UK government to respect the decision made by the UK High Court and to act in accordance with this decision by demanding Prince Nasser’s immediate removal from UK territory.

See the letter below:

Rt Hon Theresa May
Secretary of State for the Home Department
Home Office
Direct communications unit
2 Marsham Street
London
SW1P 4DF

Dear Ms. May,

We write to you regarding the current visit of the Bahraini Prince Nasser Bin Hamad Al Khalifa to the United Kingdom amidst serious allegations of torture and ill treatment. His visit coincides with the 2014 British Invention Show of which he is a patron.

On 7 October 2014, the UK High Court quashed a decision1 by the Crown Prosecution Service that the Prince had immunity from prosecution on torture allegations under Section 20 of the State Immunity Act 1978. Prince Nasser has been accused of taking part in individual acts of torture during the 2011 uprising in Bahrain. In 2012, the European Centre for Constitutional and Human Rights sent a detailed dossier of evidence regarding alleged practices of torture committed by the Prince. This included witness statements by members of Bahrain’s opposition who alleged that the Prince had personally engaged in acts of torture against them. Lord Justice Laws and Mr. Justice Cranston confirmed that “based on the evidence provided” in the hearing, the Prince would no longer be immune to investigation or prosecution for the alleged acts as required by UK and Bahraini commitments to the Convention against Torture.

Two days after this decision, the British ambassador met with Prince Nasser2 expressing a “keenness to strengthen ties with Bahrain.”

Similarly, the UK government invited the Prince to visit the Royal British navy transport dock in Bahrain last week.

These actions have shown the government’s disregard for the decision made by the UK High Court earlier this month, which considered evidence of torture claims against the Prince sufficient to strip him of his functional immunity in the United Kingdom.

The Prince’s undisturbed arrival in the UK reflects a compromising position of the UK government towards Bahrain. While the order of the High Court on Prince Nasser recalls the UK obligations under the UN Convention Against Torture, an unchanged attitude towards the Prince amidst serious allegations of torture puts to question the UK’s commitment to its international human rights engagements.

We express our disappointment with the decision to grant the Prince access to British territory whilst there are ongoing accusations against him. We call on the government to make it clear to the Prince that as a person accused of some of the most serious crimes, he is not welcome in the United Kingdom. I remind you of HMG’s Human Rights and Democracy Report 2012 which clearly states: “Where there is independent, reliable and credible evidence that an individual has committed human rights abuses they will not normally be permitted to enter the UK.” We further call on the government to refrain from inviting the Prince onto public property, including for the inspection of sensitive military installations and urge you to take immediate steps to advise of an appropriate course of action for his dismissal from the UK.

Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB)
Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD)
Redress

Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB), the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) and the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD) express their concern over the Bahraini government’s ongoing campaign of targeting photographers, journalists and artists for documenting abuses and human rights violations committed by the government and security forces. The government arrested 17-year-old photographer Hussam Mahdi Suroor on 4 September 2014. His 26-years-old brother, artist Mahmood Suroor, was arrested and detained on 10 October 2014: here.

40 NGOs call on ’s allies to take action to free human rights defenders: here.

Bahrain: Halt deportation of individuals arbitrarily stripped of nationality: here.

Bahrain’s Ban on Main Opposition Prompts U.S. Policy Dilemma: here.

US military torture in Iraq, Afghanistan on photos


This video is called Iraq – Torture and prisoner abuse by American soldiers.

By Patrick Martin in the USA:

US judge sets deadline in lawsuit over Iraq, Afghanistan torture photos

23 October 2014

The Obama administration is fighting a bitter rearguard action against the release of further damning evidence that the US military engaged in the torture of prisoners in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

The most recent development came Tuesday in a brief hearing before US District Judge Alvin Hellerstein in Washington DC, part of a long-running Freedom of Information Act lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union and several journalists seeking the release of 2,100 photographs depicting the torture of people detained by the US military.

The pictures are said to be more disturbing than those released in 2004 showing the abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison outside of Baghdad, which caused worldwide revulsion against the US occupation regime in Iraq.

The photographs were taken by individual soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, mainly between 2003 and 2006, for their own use and to exchange with fellow soldiers as trophies or memorabilia of their wartime activities. They were confiscated in the course of more than 200 internal investigations into charges of mistreatment and abuse of prisoners, all of which have been closed without charges being brought.

The US Army released descriptions of the photos to the ACLU plaintiffs, and even these brief captions make for chilling reading. They include soldiers pointing guns at the heads of detainees who are hooded and bound, soldiers beating detainees with their fists or objects, soldiers posing with groups of bound and restrained prisoners, soldiers posing with corpses, and, in at least one case, a female soldier pointing a broomstick at the rectum of a hooded detainee.

The Pentagon reportedly catalogued the 2,100 images in May 2009, dividing them into three categories according to the degree of political damage their release would cause. The categories were described as follows:

* Category A: Will require explanation; egregious, iconic, dramatic

* Category B: Likely to require explanation; injury or humiliation

* Category C: May require explanation; injury without context

The proceedings before Judge Hellerstein are the result of a protracted political and legal conflict going back to 2009, when President Obama released a few legal memorandums justifying torture that were written by the Bush Justice Department, and initially agreed to release the photographs as well.

After a month of intense lobbying by the military brass and former Bush administration officials, Obama reversed himself and withheld the photos, claiming, “The most direct consequence of releasing them, I believe, would be to further inflame anti-American opinion and to put our troops in greater danger.”

The administration appealed to the Supreme Court against a lower court order to release the photographs and prevailed on Congress to pass legislation giving the secretary of defense the authority to suppress such photographs for a three-year period (renewable indefinitely) by certifying that they would endanger US national security. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates issued that certification in November 2009, and his successor, Leon Panetta, did the same in November 2012.

The plaintiffs challenged the 2012 certification on a new ground, because Panetta had simply issued a half-page statement declaring all the photographs off-limits. Under the terms of the law, they argued, the Pentagon had to give specific reasons for withholding each photograph.

Last August, Judge Hellerstein agreed and issued an order for the administration to release the material in redacted form—that is, showing the victims but with the faces of the torturers obscured—or give specific reasons why each photograph should be kept secret.

At Tuesday’s hearing, the judge set a deadline of December 12 for the Justice Department to release the photographs or provide the explanations. He also set the date for a subsequent hearing, January 23, 2015, where the plaintiffs will be able to challenge the withholding of any photographs.

The case before Judge Hellerstein is only one of at least four different legal and political venues in which the Obama administration is engaged in an all-out defense and cover-up for American government personnel, both CIA and military, who engaged in the torture of prisoners.

The White House, Justice Department and CIA have been stalling for months the release of a massive report by the Senate Intelligence Committee on torture at CIA black sites overseas between 2003 and 2006. The committee voted to declassify the report and release it to the public last April, but Obama assigned the task of vetting the report to the agency that carried out the torture, and the CIA has continuously pushed back the deadline, now set for October 29.

According to a report last week by McClatchy News Service, the report fails to hold any officials of the Bush administration responsible for the torture of prisoners at CIA black sites, limiting its criticism to lower-level CIA personnel.

In another federal district courtroom in Washington, before Judge Gladys Kessler, the Justice Department is fighting an order to release videos of the force-feeding of prisoners at the Guantanamo Bay detention center, the result of a lawsuit by one of the prisoners, Abu Wa’el Dhiab.

At a hearing last week, Judge Kessler agreed to delay for 30 days her order to release the videos, giving the Obama administration time to file an appeal. (See: Judge delays order to release Guantanamo force-feeding videos).

According to a report Sunday in the New York Times, the Obama administration is now debating how to proceed at an upcoming session of the Committee Against Torture, a United Nations panel set up under the UN Convention Against Torture, which the US government ratified in 1994.

The Bush administration took the position that the torture convention applied only to actions by US personnel committed within the United States, but not to the actions taken overseas, as in war zones or CIA secret prisons. The Obama administration had distanced itself from that interpretation, which was a flagrant assertion of the “right” to torture, but officials were now said to be having second thoughts.

“But the Obama administration has never officially declared its position on the treaty, and now, President Obama’s legal team is debating whether to back away from his earlier view,” the Times wrote. “It is considering reaffirming the Bush administration’s position that the treaty imposes no legal obligation on the United States to bar cruelty outside its borders, according to officials who discussed the deliberations on the condition of anonymity.”

The author also recommends:

US Supreme Court suppresses torture photos
[2 December 2009]

British government’s Libyan torture scandal


This video is called Tony Blair meets Colonel Gaddafi in Libya.

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

Libya rendition victims demand disclosure of UK surveillance policy

The government’s refusal to reveal when lawyers’ and journalists’ communications can be intercepted is central to claim brought on behalf of Abdel Hakim Belhaj and Sami al-Saadi

Owen Bowcott, legal affairs correspondent

Friday 17 October 2014 10.05 BST

Secret government policies which set out when lawyers’ or journalists’ phones and emails can be intercepted should be published, a court has been told.

In an open hearing of the investigatory powers tribunal (IPT), which examines complaints against the intelligence services and government use of surveillance, lawyers for two Libyan victims of rendition have called for the documents to be released.

The government’s refusal to reveal the policy papers has emerged as a key issue in the claim brought on behalf of Abdel Hakim Belhaj and Sami al-Saadi who, along with members of their families, were kidnapped and sent to face punishment in Libya in 2004.

The case before the IPT alleges that the intelligence agencies or government spied on their communications with their lawyers, damaging their right to a fair trial in their claim for compensation for kidnap and torture.

Communication between lawyers and their clients are deemed to be “privileged” under longstanding rules. Similar protection applies to the communications between journalists and their sources and other protected groups.

In a hearing at the IPT, Dinah Rose QC, representing the Libyans, said: “We don’t understand why it’s being said that disclosure of policy will cause harm to national security. None of this information ought to be secret. Procedures for ensuring that privileged material is properly protected ought to be open to public scrutiny.”

The government has declined to disclose policies regulating the circumstances in which these communications are intercepted and any safeguards in place to avoid abuse. It says they are secret.

At Thursday evening’s hearing, lawyers for the government did not explain why the policies could not be released. Further preliminary hearings will be held before the case is tried in November. One issue is whether the tribunal has the power to order the government to disclose documents, a principle that could turn into a major confrontation between civil rights groups and the government.

The IPT complaint is one of a series of cases after revelations by the CIA whistleblower Edward Snowden about monitoring of the internet and telephone calls by Britain’s eavesdropping agency, GCHQ, through its Tempora programme.

Eight Libyans, members of the two families, say they were victims of rendition. They claim they were kidnapped by MI6 and US intelligence agencies, forcibly returned to Muammar Gaddafi’s regime and tortured. At that time, in 2004, when Gaddafi relinquished his nuclear weapons programme, intelligence relations between Tripoli, London and Washington were close.

A separate legal action between Belhaj and the UK government is due to be heard at the high court to resolve compensation for the kidnap and torture allegations. The human rights group Reprieve, which is supporting the claim, fears its ability to fight the case will be undermined because staff’s legal correspondence may be surreptitiously monitored.

Saadi, another Libyan dissident, and his family have settled their claim against the government for a payment of £2.2m. The Foreign Office did not, however, admit liability.

The “notice of complaint” by solicitors at Leigh Day on behalf of Reprieve and the Libyans lists the Security Service (MI5), the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6), the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) in Cheltenham, the home secretary and the foreign secretary as respondents. It calls for the case to be heard in open court. Most of the IPT’s hearings are in secret.

The claims states: “There is a strong likelihood that the respondents have intercepted and are intercepting the applicants’ legally privileged communications in respect of the [cases].”

Belhaj and Saadi were prominent military leaders of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group during the revolution, the document points out, and are, therefore, “likely to be of interest” to UK intelligence agencies.

Bahrain government, allies of NATO and ISIS


This is a video of United States comedian Jon Stewart about the participation of the Bahraini absolute monarchy in the supposedly anti-ISIS military coalition.

Since the 1970s, Bahrain and the U.S. have maintained a close military partnership. Following 9/11, the Bush Administration elevated Bahrain to “major non-NATO ally” status, making it the first GCC state to join this elite 15-member club: here.

From Global Voices:

Bahrain Joins US Air Strikes, but Still Tortures Americans and Silences ISIS Critics

9 October 2014 16:42 GMT

“He was ordered to stand on one leg for four hours. He says he was beaten repeatedly, as threats were made to rape his mother and sisters.” This sounds like the actions of ISIS, the Al Qaeda offshoot that has brutally taken control of large parts of Iraq and Syria. But it is actually a description of what the Bahrain government, an ally in the coalition against the ISIS, has done to an American citizen and thousands of its own citizens.

Bahrain and four other Arab countries have joined the coalition against the militant group, which is killing Muslims and minorities and spreading horror, in order to grab land for its self-declared caliphate. It goes without saying that Bahrain didn’t even pretend to hold a parliamentary session to approve the decision to go to war. Bahrain’s contribution to the coalition has also drawn laughs on American comedian Jon Stewart’s “The Daily Show” [see video at top of this blog post].

This comes shortly after Bahrain deported an American diplomat. Also recently, Shaikh Khalid Al Khalifa, the head of the national committee for defence and national security at the Shura Council, brushed off the danger of the ISIS.

Allegations of torture

Bahrain is now in the third year of its crackdown on a popular uprising. Tagi Al-Maidan, a US-born citizen, found himself caught in the struggle after he returned with his mother to Bahrain following her divorce. There, he was arrested and tortured into signing a false confession that he is an attempted murderer. He is now serving a 10-year sentence in Bahrain’s infamous prison system.

Al-Maidan was arrested at his house and put on trial for charges that included illegal gathering and assaulting armed forces. In an interview with an Arabic-language daily, his mother denied all the accusations, saying her son was home at the time of the alleged incident, adhering to the American embassy’s travel advisory.

The mother says there is no physical evidence to support the claims against her son. She demands that any supposedly incriminating evidence must be presented in open court, where, she is confident, it would be quickly refuted. According to Human Rights Watch, courts in Bahrain “fail to deliver basic accountability and impartial justice“.

According to prominent Bahraini human rights activist Said Yousif Almuhafada, Al-Maidan is being mistreated in prison. Almuhafada described the bad conditions in a tweet earlier this summer:

Tagi Al-Maidan, a US citizen, is on a hunger strike in block 3 [of Jaw Prison] due to his mistreatment, lack of medical attention, and deprivation of food that is necessary for his medical condition.

After several prisoner deaths in Bahrain last year, the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights said in its 2013 report:

The continuation of the current violations against all prisoners in Bahrain may lead to future loss of lives.

Four deaths were attributed to the lack of medical treatment in prison in 2013.

According to his mother, Al-Maidan has lost 16 kilos (about 35 pounds) since his arrest, his hair is falling out, he’s developed a stomach ulcer, and he is experiencing back pains. Without medical attention or enough diplomatic pressure to release him, Taqi’s psychological condition is also expected to deteriorate.

The arrest of Nabeel Rajab

Bahrain is also silencing those who speak against the ISIS, while turning a blind eye to defectors from its own armed forces, who have climbed the ranks of ISIS and call on Bahrainis to join the organisation.

Bahraini authorities have again arrested Nabeel Rajab, a prominent human rights activist who was released from prison in May 2014 after spending two years in prison for advocating peaceful protests. This time, he was held for criticizing police defectors who joined ISIS. Indeed, Rajab has commented on acts committed by ISIS many times. After American journalist Steven Sotloff was beheaded by ISIS, he wrote on his Instagram account:

The American journalist Steven Sotloff who was killed by ISIS is one of the journalists and researchers who visited Bahrain many times and wrote many articles and investigations that support the struggle of Bahrainis and I have met him several times. The cruelty that radical Islamist movements have inflicted on Islam and Muslims is more than the enemies of Islam [have dispensed]. I offer all my condolences to the family of this journalist, who was killed at the hands of the enemies of humanity.

Rajab also criticized the inaction of the political forces in the Gulf region to crack down on ISIS. He tweeted to his 240,000 followers:

The highest Saudi cleric describes ISIS and Al Qaeda as the greatest danger facing Islam, but there are politicians in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf who consider ISIS’s occupation of Mosul a popular revolution.

He was arrested after he tweeted in reply to an ISIS YouTube message calling Bahrainis to arms:

many #Bahrain men who joined #terrorism & #ISIS came from security institutions and those institutions were the first ideological incubator

12:55 PM – 28 Sep 2014

The authorities in Bahrain considered this message offensive to national institutions, and decided to keep him in custody, until he is brought to trial on October 19 for “denigrating an official institution”. This has sparked a discussion about the government’s hypocrisy in its fight against ISIS. Ex-MP Ali Alasheeri tweeted:

The state authorities, who don’t raise a finger when a high-ranking official tweets about how over half of Bahrain is made up of infidels, is an incubator of the ISIS ideology.

Journalist Adel Marzooq asked his 35,900 followers:

Aside from the financial and military support, how can the international alliance, in the first place, deal with the cultural and theological support of ISIS?!

Bahraini authorities demolished about 40 Shia mosques across the country as part of its crackdown on protests against the Sunni regime. ISIS is doing the same to historic mosques, shrines, and places of worship throughout Syria and Iraq. Activist Abdulelah Almahoozi made a comparison between two acts, asking if we aren’t witnessing the same phenomenon in essence:

Isn’t the act of demolishing mosques, as the police and military forces have done, the same act that ISIS is performing? Therefore, aren’t the security institutions inspired by an ISIS-like ideology?

Meanwhile, the Bahrain-born-and-raised preacher Turki Al Binali, who pledged allegiance to ISIS, has issued a new statement on why allegiance to the Caliphate Abu-Baker Albaghdaddi is the duty of every Muslim.

The Bahrain Ministry of Interior, which customarily publishes pictures of political dissidents and their charges before they go to court, hasn’t posted anything yet about the identity of the three unnamed Bahraini men in the YouTube message calling on Bahrainis to join ISIS. The government hasn’t announced a public investigation into the matter, either.

Update: Bahrain – Court orders continued detention of Mr Nabeel Rajab as he awaits trial: here.

Bahraini prince may be prosecuted for torture


This video says about itself:

7 October 2014

Prince Nasser of Bahrain is not immune from prosecution over allegations of torture, the UK’s High Court has ruled.

Prince Nasser bin Hamad al-Khalifa has been accused of being involved in the torture of prisoners during a pro-democracy uprising in Bahrain in 2011.

Judges overturned a ruling by UK prosecutors that the prince had state immunity from prosecution.

From Reuters news agency:

Bahrain prince does not enjoy immunity over torture claims, UK court rules

Tue, Oct 7, 2014

LONDON – A British court ruled on Tuesday that Bahraini Prince Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa, who has been accused of torturing detainees in Bahrain, does not enjoy immunity from prosecution in Britain.

A Bahraini citizen, known only as FF, had sought the arrest of the son of Bahrain’s king following allegations that he was directly involved in the torture of three prisoners in Bahrain during a pro-democracy uprising in 2011.

FF, who says he himself was tortured, was granted refugee status and now lives in Britain. He was challenging a 2012 ruling by Britain’s Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) that the prince enjoys immunity from prosecution in Britain because of his royal status.

Prince Nasser is a regular visitor to England and has met members of the British royal family. FF had instructed a firm of London lawyers to write to the CPS asking for him to be arrested whilst on a visit to the UK.

After Tuesday’s High Court ruling, lawyers for FF said they would provide evidence against the prince to London’s Metropolitan Police Service. …

(Reporting by Ahmed Aboulenein; editing by Stephen Addison)

See also here. And here.

Americans for Democracy and Human Rights and Bahrain (ADHRB) and the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD) welcome the decision by the UK High Court to lift the immunity from Bahrain’s Prince Nasser Bin Hamad Al Khalifa for prosecution against torture allegations: here.

Potential torture investigation of Bahraini prince puts IOC and AFC on the spot: here.

Since the 1970s, Bahrain and the U.S. have maintained a close military partnership. Following 9/11, the Bush Administration elevated Bahrain to “major non-NATO ally” status, making it the first GCC state to join this elite 15-member club: here.

Moazam Begg, ex-Guantanamo prisoner, freed after ‘anti-terrorist’ witchhunt


This video is called Ex-Gitmo detainee Moazzam Begg released after terror charges dropped.

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

Moazzam Begg freed after terrorism case against him collapses

Secret intelligence material handed to prosecutors demolished case against former Guantánamo Bay detainee

Ian Cobain

Wednesday 1 October 2014 17.22 BST

The prosecution of the former Guantánamo inmate Moazzam Begg has dramatically collapsed after the police and crown prosecutors were handed secret intelligence material that undermined the terrorism case against him.

Five days before Begg was due to go on trial on a string of terrorism charges, which carried prison terms of up to 15 years, prosecutors announced at the Old Bailey that they had “recently become aware of relevant material” that obliged them to offer no evidence.

He was released from Belmarsh high-security prison in south London after the judge entered a formal verdict of not guilty. Speaking to reporters at the gates of the prison, Begg said he had wanted his “day in court” but was happy to be a free man.

“I need to reconnect with my family again,” he said. “I need to understand what it’s like to be a free man and I think that it’s important to point out some of the government’s failures in its foreign policy and its internal policy: its clear demonising of the Muslim community.”

Police sources said the decision to halt the prosecution was taken following the receipt of intelligence material two months ago, while the Crown Prosecution Service said in a statement: “If we had been made aware of all of this information at the time of charging, we would not have charged.”

Asked whether the information had been handed over by MI5 and, if so, how long the agency had possessed the material, the Home Office said it would be inappropriate to comment, on the grounds that the decision to halt the prosecution had been taken by the police and CPS.

There was speculation that the newly disclosed material detailed the way in which Begg had informed British authorities of his plans to travel to Syria.

Begg spent more than seven months in custody after being arrested and questioned over a number of trips he had made to Syria a year earlier. His friends say that the experience had been deeply traumatic.

The 46-year-old from Birmingham was facing seven charges of possessing a document for the purposes of terrorism funding and training, and attending a terrorism training camp. He denied all the charges.

Christopher Hehir, prosecuting, told the Old Bailey that the CPS had previously been satisfied that they possessed sufficient evidence to secure Begg’s prosecution. He added, however: “The prosecution have recently become aware of relevant material, in the light of which, after careful and anxious consideration, the conclusion has been reached that there is no longer a realistic prospect of conviction in this case. The prosecution therefore offers no evidence.”

Begg’s solicitor, Gareth Peirce, said he should never have been charged as his activities did not amount to terrorism. “This is a good man trying to do the right thing in a very difficult world,” she said.

“He is a rare individual who will talk to everyone and listen to everyone, even those with whom he profoundly disagrees. He has spent the near decade since he was released from the torture of Bagram and Guantánamo in attempting to wake the world up to injustice and to comprehend its causes and effects. There is nothing new that can have been discovered now that was not always crystal clear – that this is an innocent man.”

Begg had made no secret of trips he had made to Syria, at one point writing about his experiences in an internet post. He was taken aback by his arrest, protesting that he had not been engaged in terrorism.

On appearing in court, he denied attending a terrorist training camp “knowing or believing instruction or training was provided there for the purposes of terrorism” between 9 October 2012 and 9 April 2013.

He had also denied five charges of possessing articles for purposes connected with terrorism between 31 December 2012 and 26 February 2014. Those counts related to electronic documents found on a laptop computer in his possession.

Begg had further denied being involved in a funding arrangement between 14 July 2013 and 26 February 2014 by making available a Honda generator.

Had the case gone to trial, Begg was planning to argue before the jury that his actions – several months before the British government tried, and failed, to persuade parliament to sanction air strikes against Syrian government forces – were not the actions of a terrorist.

At an earlier hearing, his counsel, Ben Emmerson QC, told the court that his client’s stance on Syria was not at odds with the British government’s position. …

“This is not some sort of political defence. This is a serious point about the lethal and physical limits of the definition of terrorism because if the defence says the occasions concerned were defensive actions, in much the same way the UK was itself providing non-lethal aid, then we submit that would not be defined as an act of terrorism.”

Emmerson also said Begg had “never made any secret of his visits to Syria and on two occasions informed authorities of his travel plans in advance”.

Begg spent three years detained without charge after the al-Qaida attacks of 2001. In February 2002 he was arrested in Pakistan, handed over to US forces, and detained first at Bagram prison, north of Kabul, and then Guantánamo Bay. During his detention he was interrogated by British as well as US intelligence officers.

He was eventually released in January 2005. Working with the London-based rights group Cage, he became a prominent campaigner on behalf of terrorism suspects who were being denied basic legal rights.

Asim Qureshi, Cage’s research director, said on the collapse of Begg’s prosecution: “This has been a testing time for Moazzam, his family and the Muslim community. The criminalisation of virtually any Muslim who has been to Syria has only increased in intensity, while Cage has been attacked from every angle by a host of government agencies.

“We hope that Moazzam’s release is a sign that the government are now willing to adopt a more measured strategy in relation to anti-terrorism policy and avoid the attempt to criminalise all dissent and crush any organisation like Cage that stands up for the rule of law and justice.”

The Islamic Human Rights Commission chairman, Massoud Shadjareh, added: “As was widely suspected there seems to have been no basis for his arrest and it does seem that as a high-profile member of the Muslim community, Mr Begg was being made an example of in order to silence activists campaigning against draconian anti-terrorism laws.”

While West Midlands police and the CPS were not disclosing the exact nature of the new information, detectives and prosecutors were dismayed that it had not been made available to them earlier.

A CPS spokesperson said: “At the time that the charges against Mr Begg were authorised the CPS was satisfied, in accordance with the code for crown prosecutors, that there was sufficient evidence available to provide a realistic prospect of a conviction and that it was in the public interest to prosecute. However, in accordance with our continuing duty to review and working closely with the West Midlands counter-terrorism unit, we have been made aware of material previously not known to the police investigation that means that there is no longer a realistic prospect of conviction. If we had been made aware of all of this information at the time of charging, we would not have charged.”

West Midlands Assistant Chief Constable Marcus Beale said: “New material has recently been disclosed to police and CPS, which has a significant impact on key pieces of evidence that underpinned the prosecution’s case. Our criminal justice system – quite rightly – demands a very high standard of proof.

“I understand this is going to raise many questions. However, explaining what this newly revealed information is would mean discussing other aspects of the case which would be unfair and inappropriate as they are no longer going to be tested in court.

“From the beginning this case has challenged the relationship between West Midlands police and some of the communities we serve. I would like to reassure them and Mr Begg that at every stage of this investigation my officers acted in the best interests of the public and of justice.”

Moazzam Begg complains of ‘malicious’ and ‘vindictive’ detention. Former Guantánamo inmate says it is inevitable he will bring proceedings against MI5 after terror case collapses: here.

Ruling on a request filed by the Obama administration, US District Court Judge Gladys Kessler agreed Thursday to grant a one-month delay on the release of videotapes showing the barbaric force-feeding of prisoners at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp: here.