A well-travelled British human rights activist and former Guantanamo Bay detainee said he was barred from boarding a direct flight from London to Toronto Friday because of concerns the aircraft could be diverted to the U.S.
Moazzam Begg was supposed to speak at a Saturday conference on Islamophobia organized by the Canadian lawyer for Omar Khadr, 24, the Toronto-born Guantanamo prisoner who was convicted last fall of war crimes.
Begg said airline agents told him they had been in touch with Canada’s High Commission in London and the issue was one of security.
“They said to me the reason why they would not board me and take me to Canada is because, in the unlikely event they were rerouted to America, there could be a security concern,” Begg said in a telephone interview with the Toronto Star.
Air Canada, London’s High Commission and the Department of Foreign Affairs did not immediately have comment Friday.
Khadr’s lawyer, Dennis Edney, said a Canadian foreign affairs official informed him that Begg was denied entry due to a “U.S. policy.”
Begg is the high-profile director of the London-based organization Cageprisoners, and has met with various foreign ministers, deputy prime ministers and Britain’s Lord Chancellor through his advocacy work.
According to a diplomatic cable released through Wikileaks, at least one American diplomat had also praised him for his efforts.
Cynthia Stroum, an ambassador to Luxembourg, commended Begg as an ally in the U.S. attempts to resettle Guantanamo detainees the Pentagon had cleared for release...Well, if an ambassador to Luxembourg (Luxembourg?!) is willing to vouch for him, he must be "kosher." ;)