Following Moazzam’s release, CAGE opens the debate on failed negotiations for Henning.

By Jules Martin
Following Moazzam’s release, CAGE has campaigned and advocated widely on the issues surrounding his incarceration. Read on for a summary of CAGE’s work in the media on this topic.

As has been widely reported in the media, Moazzam Begg was released from Belmarsh prison last Wednesday following the CPS’s decision to drop all charges against him. The CPS and police claim that this was due to ‘new evidence’ which had been revealed by Mi5, namely that Mi5 were aware of Moazzam’s activities and had had meetings with him regarding this. CAGE will be addressing the issue of this ‘new evidence’ in an upcoming article (stay tuned).

Since Moazzam’s release, numerous questions and issues have been raised not only in regards to the suspicious circumstances surrounding the CPS’s charges against him but also in regards to the events taking place before and after his arrest for negotiation for Alan Henning’s release.

In the week following Moazzam’s release, CAGE opened the debate on the UK government’s role in the failure of hostage negotiations for Alan Henning. On 7th October, Moazzam appeared on the prime spot on BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme where he criticised the Government for thwarting his efforts to negotiate for Alan Henning’s release. Later, Moazzam was then interviewed in the CAGE offices by ITV News and Al-Jazeera. Following extensive media coverage and a statement released by Alan Henning's brother which indicated that he would have agreed to Moazzam negotiating for Henning and also asking him to help other IS captives; that same evening the Prime Minister responded. He stated that the government were 'happy to work with anyone' and that Moazzam’s appeals for negotiations for Alan Henning ‘fell on deaf ears’ (we assume he was referring to ISIS). As part of this same response, he then asked Moazzam to share any knowledge he has on ISIS with the Government . This is a disingenuous request given that the Government rejected Mr. Begg when he approached them in January regarding negotiations.

In response to Cameron’s claim that Moazzam’s call for negotiation fell on ‘deaf ears’, CAGE released a statement indicating that the appeal did indeed fall on deaf ears – that of ISIS and the UK government; this statement includes the full written appeal in both Arabic and English. CAGE released some of the correspondence between Moazzam and the FCO featured on BBC News at 6pm and 10pm – proving the same.

The unfolding of these events have not only highlighted the government’s role in frustrating meaningful attempts to release a British hostage (thereby denying a British citizen the protection of their government) but also raised pressing questions about the merits of having a blanket policy against negotiations and whether this policy was merely rhetoric.