Page last updated at 13:34 GMT, Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Ex-inmate wants Guantanamo action

Unidentified prisoner in Guantanamo Bay
Moazzam Begg was held at Guantanamo Bay for nearly two years

Barack Obama's move to halt military trials at Guantanamo Bay is "too little too late", according to a former detainee at the Cuban prison camp.

Moazzam Begg, 40, originally from Sparkhill in Birmingham, said trials had been suspended before but the facility had never been closed down.

He pointed out that former president George Bush had expressed his desire to see it shut but without success.

Mr Begg said he welcomed Mr Obama's decision but wanted to see action.

until we see something tangible happening, we are going to reserve judgment
Moazzam Begg

Mr Begg, a former language teacher, said he was not convinced the new US president would do "the right thing" quickly enough.

"I'm not as euphoric as some people may be. There is no clear statement about this being stopped and the whole process being recognised as illegal, as it is.

"The fact is, saying this for me is too little, too late. We need to hear much more than the halting or suspension of this process."

Mr Begg added: "He's made his position on Guantanamo clear, and that is something we welcome.

"But as for myself and other former detainees, until we see something tangible happening, we are going to reserve judgment."

CIA arrest

Mr Begg said campaigners like himself were reserving judgment "because we have been here before - Bush has stated he wanted Guantanamo closed".

The new US president should think about the whole principle of holding people who have not been charged or tried, he said.

Mr Begg used to run a bookshop in Birmingham selling religious and historical texts but after moving his family to Afghanistan he was arrested by the CIA in February 2002 while in the Pakistani capital Islamabad and held on suspicion of being involved in terrorism.

He has always maintained that he was in the city on charity business and that he has never been involved in any kind of terrorist activity.

Mr Begg was held for a year at an airbase in Afghanistan before being sent to Guantanamo Bay in the spring of 2003 and was not released until January 2005. He was never charged with any offence.

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