Shaker Aamer was taken, hooded and shackled, to the prison camp at Guantánamo Bay on the same day his youngest child was born – a child he has still never met, touched, or even seen.
Reprieve began representing him, and Shaker was cleared for release in 2007. This process required no fewer than six US government agencies to agree that he had done nothing wrong, yet he remains imprisoned. Reprieve continues to fight for Shaker’s return to his family in the UK.
Shaker is a permanent UK resident, married to a British woman, with four British children living in London. He was volunteering for a charity in Afghanistan in 2001 when he was abducted and sold for a bounty to US forces. He was tortured, and eventually cracked, agreeing to whatever his captors accused him of doing. Satisfied with the confession of an abused and broken man, US forces took him to Guantánamo Bay on Valentine’s Day 2002.
“I have just returned from a visit and the brutal nature of the Forcible Cell Extraction – to which Shaker is subjected probably more than any other prisoner – is only getting worse. Mr Hammond says that the UK is doing all it can to help Shaker but if it were his son or brother being beaten up every day, he would show a little more interest in evidence, and a little less in bland and false denials. It is far past time that Shaker was home with his wife and children.”
Clive Stafford Smith, Reprieve’s Director and Shaker’s lawyer
In peaceful protest at his continued detention and the appalling conditions in which he and his fellow detainees are held, Shaker has been on hunger strike many times. In retaliation, the guards beat him, confine him to a tiny cell, and force him to spend long periods in solitary confinement. Shaker was recently examined by an independent doctor who listed a catalogue of debilitating conditions. Reprieve lawyers say he is ‘unrecognisable’ from the man who was abducted 12 years ago.
My dear wife and lovely kids,
I don’t know when I am coming out but pray for me that it will be soon. I cried a lot when you told me about how the kids talk to their cars and toys as if I am talking to them on the phone. Please try to be easy on them. Don’t send any pictures of the kids – it will make it hard on me here in jail.
Whatever happens to me be with Allah. I love you all.
Shaker’s first letter from Guantanamo, 2003
The UK government has repeatedly stated that they want Shaker released from Guantánamo and returned to his family in London. Clive Stafford Smith maintains that Shaker is still imprisoned because he witnessed US and UK agents torturing men while he was in US detention.
“It is deeply suspicious that the UK won’t say why their friends in the US refuse to transfer Shaker home to London. The US and UK intelligence services appear to be working together to ensure Shaker stays where he is or gets shipped off to Saudi Arabia. Shaker knows too much. National embarrassment isn’t a reason to keep a man who has been cleared for release locked away in prison. Shaker must be returned to his family in London at once.”
Clive Stafford Smith
Commenting on the Home Secretary’s appearance before Parliament’s Home Affairs Committee today to answer questions about UK involvement in torture and rendition
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.
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Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond has dismissed concerns over the abuse of British cleared detainee Shaker Aamer, in a letter to his lawyer at human rights charity Reprieve.