Monday, May 23, 2011

PRESS RELEASE: Campaigners urge Prime Minister to press President Obama on Guantánamo during UK visit

To coincide with the first UK state visit of President Obama, supporters of the London Guantánamo Campaign [1] sporting orange jumpsuits will join a demonstration outside Buckingham Palace, organised by the Save Shaker Aamer Campaign, [2] on Tuesday 24 May, from 5pm, to demand the closure of Guantánamo Bay and the swift return to the UK of prisoners Shaker Aamer and Ahmed Belbacha.

Daniel Viesnik, speaking on behalf of the London Guantánamo Campaign, said: “Obama’s visit to the UK offers the Prime Minister a unique opportunity to demand and facilitate the rapid closure of Guantánamo Bay, and the release and return to the UK of two remaining prisoners with links to this country, namely British resident Shaker Aamer [3] and Ahmed Belbacha [4], who has previously resided in the UK.

“We understand that the Foreign Secretary, William Hague will once again discuss Shaker Aamer’s case with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during the President’s visit. [5] Whilst we warmly welcome this, we also call upon the Prime Minister to raise our concerns with President Obama himself.

“In addition, we should follow the example of other European countries that have, on humanitarian grounds, accepted individuals who are not nationals or former residents, but are in a similar plight to Ahmed Belbacha: cleared for release but unable to return to their country of origin out of fears for their safety.

“The release of men like Shaker Aamer and Ahmed Belbacha and the closure of legal black holes like Guantánamo Bay are long overdue.”


Notes to the editor:

[1] The London Guantánamo Campaign campaigns for justice for all prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, for the closure of this and other secret prisons, and an end to the practice of extraordinary rendition.


[3] UK resident and Saudi national Shaker Aamer, who has a British wife and children living in London, has been imprisoned without charge for close to a decade. His case was raised with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during recent visits to the US by Foreign Secretary William Hague and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, but with no clear signs of progress.

Further information:

[4] Ahmed Belbacha, an Algerian national, lived in England for two and a half years whilst seeking asylum. He was cleared for release from Guantánamo in February 2007 and is at risk of forced return to Algeria at any time, where his life and liberty would be in grave danger.

Further information:


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