New calls for return of Guantanamo Brit, after 13 years of torture

December 11, 2014

Image of Shaker Aamer in Guantanamo waving

In the wake of a new report on US abuses post 9/11, calls have been renewed for the return of a British resident held without charge or trial at Guantanamo Bay for the past 13 years.

Shaker Aamer, a Londoner with a British wife and four British children, was captured and tortured by US forces in Afghanistan in 2001before his rendition to Guantanamo Bay in 2002. His ordeal includes a litany of abuses similar to those described in the US Senate report on CIA torture, a portion of which was released this week. The details of CIA torture revealed in the report have provoked widespread condemnation.

As one of the first five prisoners brought to Bagram Air Force Base in late December 2001, Mr Aamer was forced to stay awake for nine days, beaten, denied food, and tied up in such a way as to risk strangling himself if he moved. Other times, he was forced to stand up for over 16 hours a day. He has said that British security officers were sometimes present when he was being brutally interrogated.

During his 13 years at Guantanamo Bay, Mr Aamer has been repeatedly subjected to physical violence – including regular beatings and “forcible cell extractions” (FCEs), at times as often as eight times a day. He has also been forced into prolonged bouts of solitary confinement, protracted sleep deprivation, manipulation of the temperature around him, and humiliating ‘genital searches.’

Earlier this year, Mr Aamer said: “The worst thing about torture is that you don’t know how to think, what to do, how to feel. You know you have your mind, but you don’t know how to react, which is horrible because you feel vulnerable. It’s terrible.”

The UK government has repeatedly stated that it wants Mr Aamer released from Guantanamo and returned to his family in London. Mr Aamer’s lawyer, Reprieve director Clive Stafford Smith believes that he is still imprisoned because of the evidence he might give around UK complicity in his and others’ torture. He has said: “It is deeply suspicious that the UK won’t say why their friends in the US refuse to transfer Shaker home to London.”

Commenting, Clare Algar, Executive Director at Reprieve which represents Mr Aamer, said: “Shaker has been to hell and back the last 13 years, and continues to suffer abuse in Guantanamo – it is high time he was returned to his family in London.”