Shaker Aamer, the last British detainee held in Guantanamo Bay, has been released after almost 14 years in detention. UK Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond made a statement on Friday declaring Aamer had left the base and would be back in the UK “later today” and is expected to return to his Battersea home.
Words: Daisy Greenaway, Subeditors: Mariya Savova and Isabella Ellis
Aamer, a Saudi national with permission to indefinitely live in the UK, had been held in military since 2002 – despite never being officially charged with a crime and was never put on trial.
The 48-year-old was first detained in Afghanistan in 2001, following the 9/11 attacks. Authorities alleged he led a unit of Taliban fighters and was an “associate” of Osama Bin Laden, however Aamer claimed that he was in the country for charity work.
After a year in Kabul he was transferred to the American prison where lawyers said his abuse continued.
Human Rights campaigners have always supported his claims that he was tortured in prison and lawyers believe he will need mental health assistance upon his return – as it is likely he will suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
Director of Amnesty International UK, Kate Allen, said Mr Aamer had been apprehended under “intolerable circumstances for nearly 14 years”.
He had been cleared for release twice by presidents George W Bush and Barack Obama in the last eight years but continued to be detained. Upon his arrival this afternoon, he will be met by officials but is expected to be free to go shortly after.
Whilst his release has been heralded a success, plenty of questions remain unanswered surrounding the British involvement in the torture of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay. The government has promised an investigation but this is yet to emerge.