Medical report reveals full extent of Guantanamo Brit’s illness; motion filed for his urgent release
April 8, 2014
A medical evaluation of the last remaining Briton in Guantanamo Bay, Shaker Aamer, has detailed the full extent of physical and psychological damage caused by his torture and ongoing abuse at the prison. In response to serious issues raised by the evaluation, Mr Aamer’s lawyers filed an urgent motion in US courts today (Mon, April 7), seeking his immediate release from the prison on the grounds of ill-health. Mr Aamer has been cleared for release since 2007.
Dr Emily Keram, who assessed Mr Aamer at the prison, reports that his “diagnosis is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)” and that “he has additional psychiatric symptoms related to his current confinement…which also gravely diminish his mental health.” She also notes that “the length, uncertainty, and stress of Mr. Aamer’s confinement has caused significant disruptions in his…ability to function. He is profoundly aware of what he has lost.”
She concludes that, “Mr Aamer requires psychiatric treatment, as well as reintegration into his family and society and minimization of his re-exposure to trauma and reminders of trauma.” Dr Keram’s report also details Mr Aamer’s physical ailments, including severe edema which “if left untreated, may reflect an underlying life-threatening organ or vascular dysfunction.” She describes his debilitating headaches, asthma, and chronic urinary retention.
Dr Keram’s report is the first independent medical assessment of Mr Aamer. His legal team filed a motion in a Washington D.C. court today (Mon April 7), seeking his release on the basis of the report’s findings. In December 2013, the court ruled that Guantanamo detainee Ibrahim Idris should be released because of his poor health. He was swiftly returned to his native Sudan.
Clive Stafford Smith, one of Mr Aamer’s lawyers, has sent a copy of the report to UK Foreign Secretary William Hague and asked the British Government to provide an amicus curiae (friend of the court) brief in support of Mr Aamer’s motion for release.
It is stated British policy that Mr Aamer should be released from the prison and returned to his family in the UK. Mr Aamer, a British resident whose British wife and children live in South London, has been held at the US prison for twelve years. He was cleared for release in 2007 and again in 2009 and has never been charged, yet remains detained.
Clive Stafford Smith, Mr Aamer’s lawyer, said: “This desperate news about Shaker’s mental and physical state comes on top of twelve years of abuse, and it’s hardly surprising to learn from an independent doctor that he is suffering severe PTSD in Guantanamo. Shaker has described himself as a rusty old car that is falling apart. There is no reason he should not have come home to his wife and kids when he was cleared, seven years ago. How is it that anyone in his right mind can think that a torture victim should suffer even one more day of abuse?”
Notes to editors
2. Dr Keram’s medical evaluation of Mr Aamer can be read here.