Cameron urged to secure Guantanamo Brit’s release, amid new evidence of abuse

January 15, 2015

Image of Shaker Aamer in Guantanamo waving

15 January 2015

Lawyers for a British resident held in Guantanamo Bay for the last 13 years have urged the Prime Minister to secure his release during a 2-day White House visit starting today.

British resident Shaker Aamer, from South London, has been detained at the US prison camp since 2002, and has never faced a trial or been charged with a crime. He was cleared for release by the Bush administration in 2007, and again by President Obama in 2009. Mr Aamer has a British wife and four British children.

Mr Aamer’s lawyers at legal charity Reprieve have written to David Cameron informing him that “there are at least 315 instances in which Shaker has been videotaped while being beaten by the euphemistically named ‘FCE squad’ (FCE stands for ‘Forcible Cell Extraction’).” In response, the Prime Minister has told Reprieve that he will raise Mr Aamer’s case with President Obama during the visit, and “seek further assurances” that he is not being mistreated. The UK had initially refused to ask the US about evidence of Mr Aamer’s abuse when Reprieve raised it with the Foreign Office last year.

A recent wave of releases from Guantanamo saw five men freed last night, reportedly to Estonia and Oman for resettlement. Other prisoners have recently been settled in Uruguay, Slovenia and Kazakhstan.

The Prime Minister’s visit comes as Mr Aamer’s daughter, Johina, told the BBC of the family’s pain at his 13-year absence. She said: “I last saw my dad at the age of four […] For a long time while living in London, when I was in primary school, we never had any news about my dad or where he was. At the time I didn’t know that there could be a place such as Guantanamo Bay.

“What we want most is to have our dad home so that we can be a family and so that my mum can finally be with him.”

Cori Crider, a lawyer for Mr Aamer and a director at Reprieve, said:

“Shaker and his wife and four children in the UK have had enough of the tired old mantra from British officials that they have ‘raised the case’ with their US counterparts. The first statement to Parliament that Shaker’s case was ‘urgent’ was nearly two years ago. No more excuses. Platitudes about ‘raising Shaker’s case’ are just not enough anymore. Cameron has a real opportunity here – the US is releasing many other cleared men to states like Oman and Estonia, and so there is no excuse for the UK Prime Minister to come back empty-handed.”


Notes to editors

1. For further information, please contact Reprieve’s press office: alice [DOT] gillham [AT] reprieve [DOT] org [DOT] uk / +44 (0) 207 553 8160

2. The Prime Minister’s recent letter to Reprieve on Shaker Aamer’s case can be read here.

3. Johina Aamer’s comments to the BBC can be read here.