The Telegraph newspaper has apologised and agreed to pay damages to the former Guantanamo Bay detainee Omar Deghayes after suggesting that he had paid for his nephews, who later died fighting in Syria, to attend a gym where they were allegedly radicalised.
The apology read: “Articles published on 28 July 2017 and 26 September 2017 suggested that Omar Deghayes had used some of the compensation monies received from the British government for its alleged involvement in his rendition and unlawful imprisonment in Guantanamo Bay, to pay his nephews to attend a gym where they had been radicalised.
“Two of his nephews were later killed whilst fighting in Syria. We now accept that, although some of the information we published was drawn from a local authority Serious Case Review, Mr Deghayes had not paid or encouraged his nephews to attend the gym nor was he responsible for his nephews travelling to Syria.
“We apologise to Mr Deghayes for any distress caused and have agreed to pay him damages and legal costs.”
Mr Deghayes is a Libyan citizen who has lived in Britain since childhood. After being arrested in Pakistan he was held by the United States as an “enemy combatant” at Guantanamo Bay detention camp from 2002 until 2007.
He was then released without charges and returned to Britain. Deghayes says he was blinded permanently in one eye after a guard at Guantanamo gouged his eyes with his fingers.
Last year a Serious Case Review found that there was little “recognition” that Abdullah Deghayes, 18, and his younger brother Jaffar, 17, were at risk of radicalisation in Brighton.
A year after deciding that Jaffar was “not at risk of being drawn into terror-related activities” he disappeared with Abdullah and a third youth and travelled to Syria via Turkey where they joined the Syrian rebels.
Reacting to the Telegraph apology Omar Deghayes said: “All praise is due to Allah. I’m reasonably happy that they acknowledged to an extent that they published baseless unfounded allegations.
“It has been a recent trend that news outlets are making up false defamatory stories. I regret the writer and publisher did not take professional appropriate care in writing these fictitious stories.
“Those claims have in turn caused several unwarranted comments from politicians and others. The harm that has been inflicted can never be completely amended.”