A recent court hearing has banned a desperately ill man, whose daily movements are restricted by a control order, from having any contact with Moazzam Begg, who was detained in Guantanamo Bay for nearly three years.
Mahmoud Abu Rideh, a refugee from Palestine, whose health is in a serious condition after numerous suicide attempts since his detention under anti-terror laws in December 2001, has been banned from any contact with Moazzam Begg. Furthermore, the latest control order also bans ‘burqa-clad’ women from entering his home as the clothing has, on occasions, been used by men to disguise their identity.
Changes to the control order came soon after Moazzam Begg, on behalf of the organisation, Cageprisoners, published on its website an interview with Mahmoud Abu Rideh in June 2008 which highlighted the impact control orders had on Abu Rideh’s mental health and family life. The Home Office claimed that the interview was a ‘pre-arranged meeting’ in violation of Mahmoud Abu Rideh’s control order, despite the fact that Moazzam Begg had conducted several interviews with prisoners and ex-prisoners for Cageprisoners.
A few weeks after the interview was conducted, but before it had been published, Abu Rideh attempted suicide and was hospitalised. He remained in hospital on hunger strike for over forty days, vowing not to eat until he was allowed to leave the UK or his control order relaxed. Begg, in his capacity as outreach worker for Cageprisoners, spoke to Mahmoud Abu Rideh regularly whilst he was in hospital – being denied access to visit him. Cageprisoners subsequently published the interview, accompanied by photos of a weakened bed-ridden Mahmoud Abu Rideh on hunger strike as part of a campaign to draw attention to his plight.
Moazzam Begg, commented: ‘It seems evident to me that Mahmoud Abu Rideh – a man innocent of any wrongdoing – has once again been penalised for daring to tell his story. That they [the Home Office] have now decided that he cannot have any communication with me demonstrates – in addition to the new and ludicrous ban on burqa-clad women entering his house – an astonishing level of fear of embarrassment for the way in which Mr Abu Rideh has been treated.’
Read an IRR news story on Mahmoud Abu Rideh: Hunger strike – ’till death or deportation’