Brit police detain 'Guantanamo' thesps
Appearing in a movie about the Guantanamo Bay detention camps can, it seems, make you a target for the British police.
Two of the principal actors in Michael Winterbottom’s “The Road to Guantanamo” were detained at Luton Airport under antiterror laws when they arrived back in Britain from the Berlin Film Festival on Friday, where the movie won a Silver Bear.
The actors and three former Guantanamo detainees who were the subject of the film were held for two hours by Special Branch officers and questioned about their motives for making the film.
Actor Rizwan Ahmed says he was sworn at, manhandled and initially denied access to a lawyer. A policewoman asked why he made the film, and about his views on the Iraq war.
“She asked me whether I intended to do more documentary films, specifically more political ones like ‘Road to Guantanamo.’ She asked, ‘Did you become an actor mainly to do films like this, to publicize the struggles of Muslims?’ ” he said.
The movie is about three British Muslims, known as the Tipton Three, captured by U.S. forces in Afghanistan and shipped to Guantanamo as Al Qaeda suspects. They were held for more than two years and released without charge.
No evidence has ever been produced to disprove their claim that they never fought with the Taliban but went to Afghanistan on a jaunt and got caught up in events they didn’t understand.
Winterbottom and his co-director, Mat Whitecross, present their confused account of their time in Afghanistan without trying to make too much sense of it, and then shift to a painstaking re-creation of their time in Camp X-Ray and Camp Delta. The movie will be broadcast March 9 on Britain’s Channel 4, followed the next day by a simultaneous cinema, DVD and Internet release.
A police spokeswoman said, “Part of the counterterrorism act allows us to stop and examine people if something happens that might be suspicious.”