Cameron must use G8 to raise Guantanamo Brit’s case with Obama

June 14, 2013

At next week’s G8, David Cameron must raise with President Obama the case of a British resident who continues to be held in Guantanamo Bay without charge or trial, human rights charity Reprieve has said.

Shaker Aamer’s US Attorney and Reprieve’s Director, Clive Stafford Smith, has written to the Prime Minister asking that he urgently raise his client’s case personally with Mr Obama – an opportunity which he will have at next week’s G8 Summit in Northern Ireland.

So far, Mr Aamer’s case has only been raised by the Foreign and Defence Secretaries with their US counterparts. Although Mr Aamer has been cleared for release by the US Government, and the UK Government has pushed for him to be allowed to return home to his British wife and children in South London, he remains detained in Guantanamo Bay. Earlier this year, he joined the hunger-strike that has spread among inmates in the prison – more than half of whom have been cleared for release like Mr Aamer. In his letter to David Cameron, Mr Stafford Smith states that: “Ultimately, it is President Obama that has the power to release Mr Aamer. He could sign the necessary waivers tomorrow to allow him to be released to the UK. Recent media reports have raised the possibility that the US has not taken Britain’s requests on this issue seriously – a direct appeal from our Prime Minister to the US President would surely put that beyond the shadow of a doubt.”

ENDS

Notes to editors

1. For further information, please contact Donald Campbell in Reprieve’s press office: +44 (0) 207 553 8166 / donald.campbell@reprieve.org.uk

2. The full text of the letter is as follows:

Dear Prime Minister,

I write as the US lawyer for Shaker Aamer, who as you may know is a UK resident with a British wife and British children who continues to be held in Guantanamo Bay, despite having been cleared for release. I am sure you are aware of his plight as your Government – including the Foreign and Defence Secretaries – has repeatedly raised his case, and the UK’s desire to see him returned home to Britain, with the US. However, to summarise, he has been held at Guantanamo since early 2002, and in all that time has never been charged with any crime, let alone tried. Furthermore, he has been cleared for release – the result of a complex, multi-agency assessment by US authorities – under both the Bush and Obama administrations.

I write to you as Prime Minister as it appears clear that, despite the repeated efforts in good faith made by the Foreign and Defence Secretaries, the US is still refusing to release Mr Aamer. I would therefore ask that you, personally, raise this with President Obama at the next possible opportunity, in order to demonstrate the strength of feeling in the UK regarding this case. Ultimately, it is President Obama that has the power to release Mr Aamer. He could sign the necessary waivers tomorrow to allow him to be released to the UK. Recent media reports have raised the possibility that the US has not taken Britain’s requests on this issue seriously – a direct appeal from our Prime Minister to the US President would surely put that beyond the shadow of a doubt.

Finally, I would like to remind you that time is pressing.

The ongoing hunger-strike, and the heavy-handed tactics being used by the prison authorities in an attempt to break it, mean that the wellbeing of Mr Aamer – and his fellow inmates – is worse than ever. I would therefore ask that you raise his case with Mr Obama as soon as is possible.

If you have any questions about the case I would of course be happy to provide further information.

I look forward to hearing from you,

Yours sincerely,

Clive A. Stafford Smith

Director, Reprieve