Last Briton at Guantanamo Bay released after 13 years

Guantanamo Bay, in Cuba. Picture: Wiki Commons

Guantanamo Bay, in Cuba. Picture: Wiki Commons

4
Have your say

THE last British resident held at Guantanamo Bay has been released, according to reports.

Shaker Aamer, 46, whose wife and young children live in London, has been detained at the military prison in Cuba for 13 years.

Shaker Aamer, the last British resident held at Guantanamo Bay, has been released. Picture: PA

Shaker Aamer, the last British resident held at Guantanamo Bay, has been released. Picture: PA

Andy Worthington, co-director of the We Stand With Shaker campaign, said he had informed by Mr Aamer’s lawyer that he is due to return to the UK today.

He 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.

Human rights charity Reprieve wrote on Twitter: “Looks like a plane has left Guantanamo Bay, bound for London.”

But a spokesman for Reprieve said it had no confirmation of Mr Aamer’s release and it would not receive advance warning.

Mr Aamer has said he was originally seized by bounty hunters while working as a charity worker in Afghanistan in 2001 shortly after the 9/11 attacks.

He was handed over to US forces and in February 2002 he was transferred to Guantanamo Bay and accused of aiding al Qaida.

During his time in captivity, his lawyers said he was subjected to torture, with beatings and sleep deprivation, and held in solitary confinement for 360 days. In 2005, he lost half his body weight during a hunger strike.

His family, MPs and actors Mark Rylance and Maxine Peake have also taken part in a 24-hour fast to show their support. Mr Aamer said he cried when he read about the protests.

He was described in US military files obtained by the WikiLeaks website as a “close associate of Osama bin Laden” who fought in the battle of Tora Bora. However in 2007 the allegations against him were dropped and he was cleared for release.

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

In letters, Mr Aamer said he was not sure if he would know how to respond to his name after being referred to as 239 - his prison number - for more than a decade.

Back to the top of the page