- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 4, 2009

The Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, detention facility is officially closed — at least to video game players.

With pressure applied by Vets for Freedom, a nonpartisan organization established by combat veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Scottish game developer T-Enterprise has dropped plans to create and distribute “Rendition: Guantanamo.”

The game was to take a player into a third-person action adventure set in 2020, where he controls a detainee dressed in an orange jump suit and tries to escape from mercenaries. It’s a story that might look familiar to American audiences.

Vets for Freedom Chairman Pete Hegseth, who served with the 101st Airborne in Iraq and on a security mission with his National Guard unit at Gitmo, said his organization had big problems with the game’s concept.

He became aware of the game from some veteran friends and bloggers and immediately started a grass-roots campaign against it in early June by reaching out to the news media.

“It looked like to us a blatant attempt to twist reality and change the perception of the American soldier,” he said.

More specifically, a game was being created in which the detainee is made out to be the hero and the American soldier is the enemy. And it was to be distributed in the United States or, more important, sold throughout the Middle East on high-level platforms to reinforce that stereotype.

A bigger issue for the Vets for Freedom was with Moazzam Begg, a former detainee at Guantanamo Bay who also was the consultant on the game and on whom Adam, the main character, apparently was based.

“He was released because of our special relationship with the U.K. He was in Tora Bora [Afghanistan] with Osama bin Laden, trained at a facility with al Qaeda, and has made a lot of unsubstantiated claims about torture, mistreatment and, in fact, murder at Guantanamo. He has become sort of a poster child of the anti-war left,” Mr. Hegseth said.

A statement released after T-Enterprise killed the game Wednesday, said “first and foremost, the main character was NOT Moazzam Begg,” which contradicts what the BBC News reported in May after an interview with Zarrar Chishti, the director of T-Enterprise.

In the BBC report, Mr. Chishti said Mr. Begg was not only going to help with the design of the prison for the game, but also that “Moazzam will do three days of sound with us then we will 3D-render him into the game.”

Mr. Hegseth said he is proud of his organization’s efforts to stop “Rendition: Guantanamo,” but he thinks there is a continuing “problem of perception” regarding Gitmo.

“We need to keep on guys like Moazzam Begg and what they are trying to do in rewriting history at Guantanamo: That our troops are oppressors and that the detainees are all victims,” he said.

• Joseph Szadkowski can be reached at jszadkowski@washingtontimes.com.

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