30 Oct 2015

Shaker Aamer, the last Briton in Guantanamo Bay, is released

The last British resident at Guantanamo Bay has been released today after 13 years at the US military prison in Cuba.

After 13 years being held at Guantanamo Bay, Shaker Aamer, the last British resident at the US military prison in Cuba, has been released, Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond confirmed.

Mr Aamer, now 46, boarded a flight back to the UK today to end 13 years in detention without charge or standing trial.

Mr Hammond said: “The Americans announced some weeks ago that they were going to release Shaker Aamer from Guantanamo and I can confirm that he is on his way back to the UK now and he will arrive in Britain later today.”

Andy Worthington, co-director of the We Stand With Shaker campaign, said: “We’re delighted to hear that his long and unacceptable ordeal has come to an end.

“We hope he won’t be detained by the British authorities on his return and gets the psychological and medical care that he needs to be able to resume his life with his family in London.”

Mr Aamer was described in US military files obtained by Wikileaks as a “close associate of Osama bin Laden” and it was claimed he fought in the battle of Tora Bora, which supporters of the Briton have dismissed.

The charges against Mr Aamer were dropped in 2007.

Despite a formal request by then-foreign secretary David Miliband, American authorities refused to allow him to go.

The Briton says he was seized by bounty hunters in Afghanistan in 2001 after the 9/11 attacks and was then handed over to US forces, being transferred to Guantanamo Bay in February 2002.

Mr Aamer’s lawyers claim he was subjected to torture, beatings and sleep deprivation, and held in solitary confinement for 360 days.

Amnesty International UK director Kate Allen said:“After so many twists and turns in this appalling case, we won’t really believe that Shaker Aamer is actually being returned to the UK until his plane touches down on British soil.

“We should remember what a terrible travesty of justice this case has been, and that having been held in intolerable circumstances for nearly 14 years Mr Aamer will need to time to readjust to his freedom.”

(Image credit: Reprieve)