Authorities at Guantanamo Bay have blocked delivery of one of the most influential books written on the Soviet system of prison camps, known as ‘gulags.’
The legal team for Shaker Aamer, a British resident who has been detained in Guantanamo without charge or trial for 11 years, attempted to deliver a copy of The Gulag Archipelago by Alexander Solzhenitsyn during a recent visit.
However, Mr Aamer has now told his lawyers that he never received the book.
The move by prison authorities follows reports that they banned the works of John Grisham in July this year – leading to the author penning a strong denunciation of Guantanamo which appeared in the New York Times.
Guantanamo Bay has been compared to a ‘gulag’ in the past, notably by US Senator Dick Durbin, as well as by a number of NGOs and media organisations.
Mr Aamer’s lawyers, from human rights charity Reprieve, often bring him books during visits – he has previously described George Orwell’s 1984 as one of his favourite reads. However, Guantanamo authorities have the ability to ban any book from the prison.
Mr Aamer is still held in Guantanamo despite having long been cleared for release, and even though British Prime Minister David Cameron has asked the US to return him home to the UK, where he has a wife and four children, all British citizens.
Clive Stafford Smith, Mr Aamer’s attorney and Director of Reprieve said: “This is yet another demonstration of how Guantanamo is destroying the very values the US once stood for. When your country’s Government starts barring books once banned by the Soviets, alarm bells should ring. Obama could start restoring America’s reputation by releasing those prisoners – like Shaker – who have already been cleared – so why the delay?”
1. For further information, please contact Donald Campbell in Reprieve’s press office: firstname.lastname@example.org
2. Dick Durbin’s comparison between Guantanamo and the gulags have been reported here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/06/16/AR2005061601500.html