Monday, February 13, 2012

MEDIA RELEASE: Shaker Aamer: Ten years of illegal detention without charge or trial – why are British residents still held at Guantánamo Bay?

13th February 2012 – for immediate release
The London Guantánamo Campaign [1] and the Save Shaker Aamer Campaign [2] note with dismay that tomorrow, Tuesday 14th February 2012, marks the tenth anniversary of the illegal detention at Guantánamo Bay without charge or trial of Shaker Aamer [3], a 45-year old Saudi national with a British family in London. He is the last British resident whose return from the illegal detention centre was sought by the government in August 2007.

The Save Shaker Aamer Campaign will mark this date with a “Guantánamo Chain Gang” display of activists in orange jumpsuits and black hoods shackled to one another outside the US Embassy in Grosvenor Square, Mayfair, at 2pm and the delivery of a petition to the Embassy itself. This action is supported by the London Guantánamo Campaign.

The London Guantánamo Campaign further regrets that Thursday 9th February marked the tenth anniversary of illegal detention without charge or trial of another British resident, Ahmed Belbacha [4], whose return to this country has not been requested by the government.

Campaigners from both organisations will demand answers from the British and American governments as to why Mr Aamer has yet to be released even though he has never been charged or tried, and was cleared for release in 2007, and will demand his immediate release to his family in London. The American government must furthermore release all the other prisoners to safety and ensure fair trials for those who have been charged.

Aisha Maniar, from the London Guantánamo Campaign, said: "This situation is a ten-year nightmare for both Shaker Aamer and his family. Ten years without charge, trial and justice are indefensible and incomprehensible. Not only should Shaker Aamer be released immediately but both the British and American governments must explain why this is taking so long".

Joy Hurcombe, from the Save Shaker Aamer Campaign, said: “The Government must act immediately to demand the release and return of Shaker Aamer to the UK. He is just a family man who longs to be with his family. His treatment is barbaric - ten years of torture and abuse must end now. David Cameron could just get on the phone and demand Shaker's return.”

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. Shaker Aamer was cleared for release by the US military in 2007. He claims to have been tortured repeatedly during his time in US custody, on one occasion in the presence of a British intelligence agent. He has a British wife and four children living in Battersea, south London. He has never met his youngest son, who is 10 years old. Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown sought his release in August 2007, along with four other residents held at Guantánamo Bay, the last of whom was released in February 2009. His lawyer, Clive Stafford-Smith, has recently expressed grave concerns for his physical and mental health due to prolonged arbitrary detention.
4. Ahmed Belbacha, an Algerian national who lived in Bournemouth from 1999 to 2001, was cleared for release by the US military in 2007. Never charged or tried, he was free to leave but has remained at Guantánamo Bay for want of a safe third country to return to. A court injunction in the USA has prevented his forced return to Algeria.

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