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I, Moazzam Begg, Demand to Be Freed From Guantanamo

Commentary

October 03, 2004

Moazzam Begg, 36, arrested in Islamabad, Pakistan, is one of four British citizens held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. This uncensored letter addressed to U.S. officials, dated July 12, 2004, was made public by his attorneys. The Pentagon would not comment on the letter but said that "all the interrogation techniques used at Guantanamo are within the standards accepted internationally."

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I, Moazzam Begg, citizen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain, attributed the number 00558 (camp Echo), have felt it necessary to augment ... my grievances and intentions.

After over 2 1/2 years in the custody of the U.S. military without charge, and by extension, without jurisdiction, I have yet to be afforded basic rights normally granted under the constitution of the U.S.A., and international law. I therefore demand, unconditionally and irrevocably, that I be released immediately and returned to my family and domicile in the U.K., together with all possessions, including all items and monies confiscated by U.S./Pakistani "agents" from my residence in Pakistan on 31st January 2002.

In the likely event that these demands are outrightly rejected or unnecessarily procrastinated, I demand the following rights under U.S. law:

1. A thorough and peremptory explanation of all statutory rights available within U.S. legislature, particularly with respect to foreign nationals.

2. Any and all charges/allegations be presented unambiguously and written.

3. Full access to international phone calls in order to communicate with family and lawyers.

4. Full access to legal representatives of my own choice and appointment.

5. A fully inventoried list detailing all property seized (as mentioned above).

6. Regular and timely access to postal communication with family and a halt to the obscuring and withholding of mail from home.

In addition to the aforementioned rights, I make it known that I expect ... reasonable answers for the following violations and abuses and intend to seek justice and accountability:

i) The exact purpose for my abduction, kidnapping and false imprisonment of [Jan. 31] 2002, under the auspices of U.S intelligence and law enforcement.

ii) Subsequently, what legal jurisdiction they had for taking me forceably to Afghanistan.

iii) By what legal authority was property and money confiscated, leaving my wife and young children destitute and penniless, in their wake.

iv) Why I was brought into a designated war zone, and my life put at risk.

v) Why I was physically abused and degradingly stripped by force, then paraded in front of several cameras toted by U.S. personnel.

vi) The reason for being held in Bagram [Afghanistan] detention facility for a year, and consequently, being denied natural light and fresh food for the duration.

vii) The exact purpose for my incarceration in solitary confinement since 8th February 2003.

viii) Why all news pertaining to my own situation has been barred from me.

ix) The justification for withholding most of my family mail and incongruent obscurance of what little amounts have trickled through -- even from 8-year-olds.

x) Why phone calls and legal representation have been continually denied, despite several reassurances to the contrary.

xi) Why despite copious requests, I have yet to meet with a chaplain during all this time.

xii) What was the legality and purpose of extracting my signature on a statement in early February 2003, by FBI and [other] agents, under threats of long-term imprisonment, summary trials and execution -- all without legal representation.

I state here, unequivocally and for the record, that any documents presented to me by U.S. law enforcement agents were signed and initialed under duress, thus rendered legally contested in validity. During several interviews, particularly -- though unexclusively -- in Afghanistan, I was subjected to pernicious threats of torture and death threats -- amongst other coercively employed interrogation techniques. Neither was the presence of legal counsel ever produced or made available.

The said interviews were conducted in an environment of generated fear, resonant with terrifying screams of fellow detainees facing similar methods. In this atmosphere of severe antipathy toward detainees was the compounded use of racially and religiously prejudiced taunts. This culminated, in my opinion, with the deaths of two fellow detainees, at the hands of U.S. military personnel, to which I myself was partially witness.

In spite of all the aforementioned cruel and unusual treatment meted out, I have maintained a compliant and amicable manner with my captors and a cooperative attitude. My behavioral record is impeccable, yet contrasts immensely to what I have experienced, as stated.

I am a law-abiding citizen of the U.K. and attest vehemently to my innocence, before God and the law, of any crime -- though none has even been alleged. I have neither ever met Usama bin Laden, nor been a member of Al Qaidah -- or any synonymous paramilitary organization, party or group. Neither have I engaged in hostile acts against the U.S.A., nor assisted such groups in the same -- though the opportunity has availed itself many a time, and motive.

Regardless of the outcome of all my appeals to sanity, and protestations over the years, I reiterate my intention to seek justice at every possible level available to me....

[Signed] Moazzam Begg (00558)

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