After eleven years of Guantánamo, British resident remains imprisoned

January 11, 2013

Image of Shaker Aamer waving to the camera

Today marks eleven years since the first men were taken to Guantánamo Bay. 166 men are still detained at the prison. The last British resident is still held despite having been cleared for release.

Shaker Aamer, from Wandsworth, is the last remaining British resident in the US prison. He has never been charged or tried, and published reports show that he is one of 88 remaining prisoners long cleared for release from the prison – an arduous process requiring unanimous approval by no less than six federal agencies.

Shaker’s wife and four children are British and he has never met his youngest son. The UK government have called for his release but to no avail.

Shaker was detained in November 2001. He was then sold for a bounty to US forces, tortured in Bagram Air Force Base and Kandahar (with British agents as witnesses), before being transferred to Guantánamo Bay in February 2002. He has been held and abused there ever since. There is currently an ongoing Met police investigation into the torture of Shaker and other men at the prison, while Reprieve and comedian Frankie Boyle recently announced that Shaker intends to sue the intelligence services for defamation.

There are grave fears for Shaker’s health as he is suffering from a list of ailments, including arthritis and serious asthma problems. Recently declassified documents describe in Shaker’s own words how he has been ‘ERF’d’ – subjected to regular, brutal beatings by the Emergency Reaction Force – throughout his lengthy imprisonment in Guantánamo Bay. Shaker has said: “The ERF team grab me harshly, bend my arms and my head and slam me to the floor. They shackle me and put me in the chair.”

Reprieve’s Director, Clive Stafford Smith, said: “The US gulag Guantanamo Bay is a disgrace where men are abused, and where any notion of human rights or the rule of law is flagrantly disregarded. In the US films which purport to justify torture are being nominated for awards, those who did the torturing enjoying immunity and the courageous people who expose wrongdoing are prosecuted for violating secrecy. Those who continue to be subjected to abuse and indefinite detention are all but forgotten. I have seen Shaker very recently and all he wants is to come home to his wife and four children who are desperate to see him. The UK government must bring him home.”

Comedian Frankie Boyle, said: “All Shaker wants is to come home. While the rest of us go on enjoying our lives, he remains under lock and key for no reason that anyone can fathom. It’s disgraceful and devastating to think that this has all been going on for eleven years. It’s time for the UK government to do what they keep saying they will, and get Shaker back.”


Notes to editors

1. For more information please contact Clemency Wells or Donald Campbell in Reprieve’s Press Office on +44 (0) 207 553 8140 or clemency [DOT] wells [AT] reprieve [DOT] org [DOT] uk / donald [DOT] campbell [AT] reprieve [DOT] org [DOT] uk .

2. For further information on Guantánamo Bay please see Reprieve’s website and for information about Reprieve’s Guantánamo clients:

3. For further information on Shaker Aamer please see his case page on Reprieve’s website:

4. Reprieve, a legal action charity, uses the law to enforce the human rights of prisoners, from death row to Guantánamo Bay. Reprieve investigates, litigates and educates, working on the frontline, to provide legal support to prisoners unable to pay for it themselves. Reprieve promotes the rule of law around the world, securing each person’s right to a fair trial and saving lives.  Clive Stafford Smith is the founder of Reprieve and has spent 25 years working on behalf of people facing the death penalty in the USA.

Reprieve’s current casework involves representing 15 prisoners in the US prison at Guantánamo Bay, assisting over 70 prisoners facing the death penalty around the world, and conducting ongoing investigations into the rendition and the secret detention of ‘ghost prisoners’ in the so-called ‘war on terror.’

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