Newly-freed and safe on British soil; Mr Aamer reveals the torment he experienced
The last British resident held at Guantanamo Bay has said he does not intend to take legal action against the UK government over his imprisonment.
Father-of-four, Shaker Aamer, has said he was originally seized by bounty hunters whilst he worked as a humanitarian worker in Afghanistan in 2001, shortly after the 9/11 attacks.
After being handed over to US forces, he was transferred to Guantanamo Bay in Cuba on Valentine’s Day, 2002.
At the US military base, Mr Aamer was accused of aiding al Qaida and was then subjected to years of torture.
In his first broadcast interview, to the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme, Shaker Aamer, 48, detailed the abuse he allegedly suffered at the US camp.
He said: “In the first few days, I knew this was a lot worse than what I expected. Because they told us we were going to be treated good. They told us that in Guantanamo you’re going to have Geneva Convention, things like that. So we thought, OK, we’re going to be dealt with as human beings.”
However, this was not the case. Mr Aamer said he was kept in his cell under solitary confinement for two years and 10 months.
“I ended up making friends with all kind of creatures,” he continued.
“One of them is the ants. Because they were beautiful, the way they were doing things and all that. I never knew how much time I can spend with them. But I started watching them. I started learning the different ants, the different colours, the different ways of doing things. And it was beautiful because I learnt so much.”
Mr Aamer revealed that one incident of torture happened when they tried to get his fingerprints and photograph.
He said: “They start beating my leg. They start, you know, pinching me. They start sticking their fingers in my eyes. All the pressure points and all that. And I’m screaming, screaming and screaming. And they said give us the picture. Give us the fingerprints. Give us the written scan. And then they brought a big Maglite [flashlight torch] for two-and-a-half hours non-stop. I have something called floaters now, maybe because of it.”
He continued: “Did they break my spirit? I can assure you, no. But did I get tired? Did I get sick of what I’m doing? Did I feel like I need to stop? Yes.”
In 2007 the allegations against him were dropped and he was cleared for release. Despite a formal request by then foreign secretary David Miliband, American authorities refused to let him go free.
Mr Aamer’s family, including his 17-year-old daughter Johina, maintained a constant campaign for their father’s release.
In a statement issued on Friday night Mr Aamer said: “The reason I have been strong is because of the support of people so strongly devoted to the truth. If I was the fire to be lit to tell the truth, it was the people who protected the fire from the wind.”
Mr Aamer is now expected to bring legal proceedings against the British Government over its alleged complicity in his mistreatment.