Shaker was one of the first detainees sent to Guantánamo Bay detention centre. But after 13 years, he’s never been charged, tried or convicted of any crime. US authorities have cleared him for transfer, the UK has called for his return – and yet he remains behind bars.
‘I am dying here every day, mentally and physically… We have been ignored, locked up in the middle of the ocean…’
Shaker Aamer, 2005.
In 2002, Shaker Aamer was sent to the notorious US detention centre in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.
He was one of the first to arrive – and now he’s the last UK resident to remain there.
During the 13 years he’s been incarcerated, Shaker says that he’s been brutally tortured and has spent much of the time in solitary confinement.
But Shaker has never been charged, tried or convicted with any crime.
We must get him home now.
13 years of legal limbo
Shaker was born in Saudi Arabia and moved to the UK in 1996, where he married a British woman. They have four British children.
He was originally detained by Afghan forces in 2001 in Afghanistan, where he was living with his family. Shaker has always maintained that he was in Afghanistan working for a Saudi charity.
In February 2002, he was transferred to Guantánamo Bay.
Five years later, Shaker was cleared for transfer, which demonstrates that the US has no intention of bringing him to trial.
Despite the US authorities approving his transfer and public statements by the UK government – as recently as November 2014 – calling for him to be returned home, Shaker is still detained without charge, apparently indefinitely.
British prime minister, David Cameron, is meeting President Obama at the White House this week to discuss a range of global issues. We want to see Shaker’s case on the agenda.
Both the UK and US authorities must stick to their promises and get Shaker home.
Defiant against detention
Guantánamo Bay is renowned for its abusive conditions. While detained Shaker has protested against his situation, including by participating in hunger strikes.
Shaker’s lawyers have also confirmed that while he remains defiant, his physical and mental health continue to deteriorate.
In April 2014, he was examined by an independent doctor and diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. He is also said to be riddled with arthritis, ring worm, diabetes, irritable bowel syndrome, extreme kidney pain and other medical problems – which he’s not receiving adequate medical treatment for.
Other detainees returned home
Two days after taking office in 2009, President Obama pledged to close Guantánamo within a year.
Six years on and it remains open – progress on closing the camp has been repeatedly stalled. However, in December 2014 the pace of releasing detainees has picked up. Six detainees were released and transferred to Uruguay as refugees and five were transferred to Kazakhstan. Yet Shaker is one of more than 100 detainees still languishing in the notorious camp. Let’s keep up the pressure We’re calling on the UK prime minister, David Cameron, and US President, Barack Obama, to return Shaker to the UK, unless he is to be charged and brought to fair trial.