Clive Stafford-Smith lawyer acting for Shaker Aamer fights for his return to the UK
In the week that saw the launch of the “We Stand With Shaker” campaign to free Shaker Aamer from his 13 year detention in Guantanamo Bay, questions have been asked in parliament. Campaigners for his release are anxious to hear what action the British Government is taking to ensure he is returned home to his family in the UK as soon as possible. There are now serious health concerns regarding Shaker who has suffered physical and mental torture and was diagnosed with chronic depression by Dr Emily Keram, a respected psychiatrist.
Shaker has never been charged or tried and has twice been cleared for release so the fact that he continues to languish in “Gitmo” is seen by many as abusive and a disturbing denial of rights.
Neil Carmichael MP for Stroud posed the following question,
“To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what assurances he has had from the US administration about the (a) treatment of remaining prisoners at Guantánamo Bay and (b) efforts to seek the release of Shaker Aamer”
The reply from Mr Thomas Ellwood is as follows,
“With the exception of those relating to Shaker Aamer, the British Government receives no specific assurances from the US administration about the treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, as no British nationals remain among them. However, whilst Shaker Aamer is not a British national, his connections to the UK mean that he remains a high priority for the British Government. We continue to seek assurances regarding Mr Aamer’s health and welfare through our engagement with the US authorities, and we continue to make clear to the US that we want him released and returned to the UK as a matter of urgency”
Andy Worthington who has long written on the state of Guantanamo prisoners, addressed parliament this week during the launch of “We Stand With Shaker” and had this to say,
“Throughout his imprisonment, Shaker has stood up for the rights of all the prisoners seized in the “war on terror,” and in Guantánamo, as his lawyers at Reprieve have explained, he “has often gone on hunger strike to peacefully protest the appalling conditions and brutal treatment to which he and other [prisoners] are subjected. As a result of what the prison sees as his ‘non-compliance’, [he] is confined to a 6 by 8 foot windowless cell and is frequently forced to undergo extended periods in solitary confinement.”
See more at, http://www.andyworthington.co.uk/2014/11/18/andy-worthington-speaks-at-parliamentary-meeting-calling-for-the-release-of-shaker-aamer-from-guantanamo-november-25-2014/#sthash.A3zkNFG0.dpuf
Lawyer Clive Stafford-Smith of Reprieve who represents Shaker threatened to sue the British government for failing to help get Aamer freed. He was reported in the Guardian as alleging that MI6 was “stabbing Shaker in the back” by giving US courts false intelligence though he did acknowlege that the Foreign Office is honestly trying to get Shaker back.
Moazzam Begg asks, where are Shaker’s rights?
Moazzam Begg who was also detained in Guantanamo described the story of Shaker as “an injustice of epic proportions that few in the world recognise and dare to speak out against where it matters”. Writing for Cage, an organization which helps Muslim prisoners globally, he stated,
“Shaker hasn’t been detained without charge or trial for thirteen years by a despotic regime that doesn’t apply the rule of law and practices torture and degrading treatment as a matter of routine. He’s been incarcerated in the world’s most infamous prison by the world’s most vocal proponent of justice, equality and freedom. Yet none of these rights have been afforded to Shaker by either the government of the USA which continues to detain him or the British government which continues to fail him and his British family”
Moazzam Begg’s full statement can be read on the following link,
John McDonnell Labour Member of Parliament for Hayes and Harlington, accused the US government’s holding on to Shaker as “an act of spite” though he said the British government were putting pressure on the US to release him. He also believes US authorities are further punishing Shaker due to his speaking out on torture and advocating for other prisoners in Guantanamo. McDonnell told Afshin Rattansi host of RT’s, Going Underground “I think he is being targeted because he has become a voice for the injustices at Guantanamo Bay.”
The MP went on to claim that he and others think, “there is an underlying current within the British government and maybe with British intelligence that they are not willing to confront the US over its miscarriage of justice.” During the time that Shaker was interrogated, McDonnell alleges that Shaker knew MI5 and MI6 were part of that interrogation process. Questions have repeatedly arisen regarding the methods employed to elicit information. Shaker was also vocal on Guantanamo suicides.
Such revelations if aired in public on Shaker’s release would put the credibility of the security and intelligence services into serious question and could prove highly embarrassing for the British government. There is also the question of accountability which very likely explains the slow and timid approach of UK authorities and the reluctance of the US to let Shaker go.
See “Home Office “cover up” and “UK collusion” in Guantanamo – John McDonnell MP on Shaker Aamer”
“‘We Stand With Shaker’: Tortured, ill, detained in Guantanamo, join new campaign to bring him home”
Carol Anne Grayson is an independent writer/researcher on global health/human rights/WOT and is Executive Producer of the Oscar nominated, Incident in New Baghdad. She is a Registered Mental Nurse with a Masters in Gender Culture and Development. Carol was awarded the ESRC, Michael Young Prize for Research 2009, and the COTT ‘Action = Life’ Human Rights Award’ for “upholding truth and justice”. She is also a survivor of US “collateral damage”.