Tag Archive: Guantanamo

Shaker Aamer is not looking for retribution after Guantanamo torture

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FAMILY MAN: Father-of-four, Shaker Aamer, was held at the US military base for nearly 14 years

FAMILY MAN: Father-of-four, Shaker Aamer, was held at the US military base for nearly 14 years

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.


‘Free Shaker Aamer’

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FAMILY: A picture of Shaker Aamer with daughter, Johnina (left), and son Michael, which was taken in 2001 before his detention

FAMILY: A picture of Shaker Aamer with daughter, Johnina (left), and son Michael, which was taken in 2001 before his detention

MPs call on US to release Guantanamo Bay’s last Brit

For the past 13 years, Shaker Aamer has been held at Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp, and despite being told by his lawyers that he was set for release in 2007, he remains locked up without a single charge to his name.

Now, as the topic was once again brought to the Houses of Parliament, MPs voted unanimously in favour of the Brit’s release, describing his treatment as ‘inhuman’.

Aamer, a Saudi national married to a Briton and with children living in London, is the last British inmate still being held at the notorious prison despite never being charged with a crime.

Even Prime Minister David Cameron lobbied US President Barack Obama earlier this year for his release, with the American leader confirming a review of his case would be a priority.

However, opposition Labour lawmaker, John McDonnell, told a debate in parliament earlier this week that it was now time for ‘action’.

“The case of Shaker Aamer is one of the worst cases of a miscarriage of justice in the last three decades at least ... He has endured harsh, and brutal and inhuman treatment,” Mr McDonell said to the agreement of those in attendance.

“Now is the time for action not words ... his health has deteriorated significantly.”

Obama has pledged to close the dentention centre in the past, yet still faces obstacles from Congress, including some right-wing Republican senators calling for a freeze on the release of remaining detainees.

McDonnell said a delegation of MPs planned to head to Washington shortly to meet with US officials about the case.

According to rights group Amnesty International, Aamer moved to Britain in 1996 and was in Afghanistan doing voluntary work for an Islamic charity when he was captured by Afghan Northern Alliance forces in 2001 and handed to the US military.

He has been held at the Cuba site since 2002.