LONDON – The U.S. ambassador to Luxembourg praised a former Guantanamo Bay detainee for lobbying European governments to accept former inmates of the American military prison, according to a leaked diplomatic cable.
One of more than 290 cables posted so far to the Internet by secret-spilling website WikiLeaks quotes Ambassador Cynthia Stroum as saying that former Guantanamo prisoner Moazzam Begg was “doing our work for us” by pressing European officials to take in those interned at Guantanamo – a key priority of President Barack Obama’s administration, which has struggled to close the controversial prison.
Begg, a Briton who says he was mistreated while at Guantanamo, was in Luxembourg in January to press the case for the resettlement of Guantanamo inmates. The cable describes his interactions with Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn, as well as a question-and-answer session in which Begg made the case for accepting Guantanamo detainees.
Stroum seemed impressed by what she described as Begg’s “articulate, reasoned” performance.
“Rather than stressing past injustices, he focused on what to do now,” she said. “He acknowledged that he lives with the past, but that he now wants to be part of the solution, and is working to convince Luxembourg and other governments – and their populaces – to want the same.
“It is ironic that after four years of imprisonment and alleged torture, Moazzam Begg is delivering the same demarche to (the government of Luxembourg) as we are: Please consider accepting (Guantanamo) detainees for resettlement.”
Begg was attending an event late Tuesday and wasn’t immediately available for comment, said colleague Asim Qureshi, the executive director of Cageprisoners, a London-based group that works to highlight the plight of about 170 inmates still being held in Guantanamo.
But Qureshi said Begg has seen the file, which he described as a kind of vindication for a man who was held among people labeled as “the worst of the worst” by then U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.
American officials have “never come out and apologized to any of the Guantanamo guys,” Qureshi said. “Here, what you have really for the first time is acknowledgment of the human side of these men.”
WikiLeaks said it has received about 250,000 leaked diplomatic cables.