Former Guantanamo prisoner Moazzam Begg declines request to appear on Big Brother in the most fitting way possible
Former Guantanamo Bay detainee Moazzam Begg, who was held prisoner by the US government in an internment facility in Afghanistan and in the Guantanamo Bay detainment camp in Cuba for nearly three years, has been invited to appear on reality TV show Big Brother. Yes, really.
However, the Birmingham activist and author – who was released without charge in 2005 and then later sued the British government for complicity in their alleged abuse and torture while in US custody – politely declined the Big Brother request while hilariously highlighting the glaringly obvious reason he might not wish to be placed in a sealed off house under 24-hour CCTV surveillance.
50-year-old Begg, originally from Sparkhill, shared the invite he received with his Facebook followers, removing details that might identify the individual sender. It stated:
My name is **** and I’m part of the casting team for the brand new series of Big Brother which is returning to Channel 5 in the summer of 2018. We’re keen to find passionate, motivated people with fascinating lives and interesting perspectives. We are looking for housemates from all over the country who have a real passion and something to say and are aspirational for our viewers.
I would love to have a chat with you and find out if this is something you may be interested in.
Please do let me know,
However, the thought of appearing on a reality TV show where contestants are locked in a house in full view of non-stop camera surveillance wasn’t really up Begg’s street (we wonder why). He replied:
My apologies for not replying before. I saw this in my filtered messages just now.
Thanks for the offer to take part in Big Brother this year.
As a former prisoner at Guantanamo who was under guard and watch for 24-hours a day on CCTV for 3 years, a terrorism suspect who had a police bug placed in his car for two years, a CAT A prisoner in max security prison, Belmarsh, for 8 months and a resident of Birmingham where police spy-cameras were installed to surveil his community you’ll appreciate my decision to politely decline your kind request.
However, I do appreciate you considering me amongst the “passionate and motivated” people in this country.
Please do feel free to take a look at the work we do in that regard: www.cage.ngo
Thank you again for getting in touch.
I thought I'd share this request I had to appear on Big Brother UK with you all, and my reply. Hi Moazzam,My name is…
“Just had a request to appear on #BigBrother. Having undergone 3 years of 24-hr watch in #Guantanamo, police bug in my car for 2 years, 8 months as CAT-A prisoner in Belmarsh and being from #Birmingham where #spycameras were installed to surveil my community, I declined.”
Just had a request to appear on #BigBrother. Having undergone 3 years of 24-hr watch in #Guantanamo, police bug in my car for 2 years, 8 months as CAT-A prisoner in Belmarsh and being from #Birmingham where #spycameras were installed to surveil my community, I declined.
— Moazzam Begg (@Moazzam_Begg) April 18, 2018
The UK version of the Big Brother show, which first aired in 1997, follows a number of contestants, known as housemates, who are isolated from the outside world for an extended period of time in a custom built house. Each week, one of the housemates is evicted by a public vote, with the last housemate remaining winning a cash prize.
The series, which moved from Channel 4 to Channel 5 in 2011, takes its name from the character in George Orwell’s 1949 novel Nineteen Eighty-Four.
Sutton Coldfield TV presenter Emma Willis co-hosts the show with Rylan Clark-Neal.
It is not known if Moazzam Begg was invited to appear on the regular Big Brother format or its spin-off celebrity version of the show.