TERRORISM charges against former Guantánamo Bay inmate Moazzam Begg have been dramatically dropped after the prosecution said there was insufficient evidence just five days before he was due to stand trial.
The charges were all connected to the conflict in Syria and included an allegation that he attended a terrorist training camp there.
An Old Bailey judge entered a formal verdict of not guilty yesterday (Wednesday) and ordered that Mr Begg be immediately set free from Belmarsh high security prison.
The 46-year-old was arrested at his Hall Green home in February and charged with attending a terrorist training camp, facilitating terrorism and possession of a document likely to be of use to a terrorist.
Mr Begg spent seven months in custody awaiting a trial which had been due to start on Monday (October 6) and had pleaded not guilty to all the charges at an earlier hearing.
Police and lawyers from the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) reviewed new material, previously not known to the police investigation and concluded there was no longer a realistic prospect of gaining a conviction.
Assistant chief constable Marcus Beale said terrorism investigations are often long and complex and this case was no exception.
He added: “New material has recently been disclosed to police and CPS, which has a significant impact on key pieces of evidence that underpinned the prosecution’s case.
“Explaining what this newly revealed information is would mean discussing other aspects of the case which would be unfair and inappropriate as they are no longer going to be tested in court.
“These events demonstrate that the police and CPS continually assess the evidence in terrorism prosecutions and will alter course if that is the right and proper thing to do.”
Mr Begg spent three years in Guantánamo Bay from 2002 to 2005 after being arrested in Islamabad and suspected of being a terrorist with links to Al-Quaeda.
He was released, without charge, by former American President George W Bush in January 2005.
Mr Begg, who is now a director of campaign group Cage which helps the families of people who have been detained, was never charged with an offence.
He has always maintained he was only involved in charity work and has never been involved in any kind of terrorist activity.