Shaker Aamer: Free at Last
by Stephen Lendman
Aamer was lawlessly held in Guantanamo for 13 hellish years, nearly 14 in US captivity – uncharged and untried. He committed no crimes.
US captors knew it all along, but kept him imprisoned anyway – torturing and abusing him, forcing him to confess to things he never did.
He’s a Saudi-born, UK national since 1996, in Afghanistan doing volunteer charity work when abducted and sold for bounty to US authorities, victimized by being in the wrong place at the wrong time, taken to Guantanamo on the same day his youngest child was born.
He hunger struck many times for justice. In retaliation, guards brutally beat and isolated him in solitary confinement. Bush administration officials cleared him for release in 2007. Obama held him captive until Friday.
Over 117,000 supporters signed a petition on his behalf. He’s now home in London, arriving Friday on a private jet aircraft. Amnesty International said “(g)iven the time involved, the lengthy spells in solitary confinement and the torture used against him, Shaker Aamer’s plight has been one of the worst of all the detainees held at Guantanamo.”
The UK-based Reprieve human rights group represents him. After the Obama administration announced plans to release him on September 24, its founder attorney Clive Stafford Smith said expect slurs to start once he’s home, Washington’s way of justifying the unjustifiable.
Shaker’s US attorney/Reprieve strategic director Cori Crider said “(w)e are, of course, delighted that Shaker is on his way back to his home and his family here in the UK. It is long, long past time. Shaker now needs to see a doctor, and then get to spend time alone with his family as soon as possible.”
Reprieve explained it took “six US government agencies to agree that he posed no threat to the US or its allies and could be released” – even though it was well known since his abduction in 2001.
He arrived at Guantanamo on Valentine’s Day 2002, unaware of the horrendous ordeal to follow. His first letter home in 2003 said the following:
“My dear wife and lovely kids,
I don’t know when I am coming out but pray for me that it will be soon. I cried a lot when you told me about how the kids talk to their cars and toys as if I am talking to them on the phone. Please try to be easy on them.
Don’t send any pictures of the kids – it will make it hard on me here in jail. Whatever happens to me be with Allah. I love you all.”
In 2005, he said “I am dying here every day, mentally and physically. We have been ignored, locked up in the middle of the ocean.”
He’s dealing with painful arthritis and other health issues, requiring treatment denied him at Guantanamo, enduring what few can imagine.
He now faces the enormous challenge of rebuilding his shattered life – how after what he’s been through will tax all his mental and physical strength. He’ll get no help from Washington or Britain, Clive Stafford Smith saying:
“You’ve got to remember that the overwhelming majority of people who have been held for many years without trial in Guantanamo Bay by the United States received not one penny of compensation.”
“And Shaker will never receive a single penny of compensation from the United State for everything that he has gone through.”
“Shaker’s interest is one thing and one thing only – beyond his family and his health – and that is that the world should know the truth.”
“He does not want to prosecute people. He simply wants people to know what happened to him, the torture he went through. And he hopes that other people can avoid going through that themselves.”
He hopes to set up a Peace and Philanthropy Center – to share his experience with others. On arrival in London Friday, he issued a statement through his lawyers, expressing thanks to everyone helping to bring his Guantanamo ordeal to an end.
“My thanks go to Allah first, second to my wife, my family, to my kids and then to my lawyers who did everything they could to carry the word to the world,” he said.
“I am overwhelmed by what people have done by their actions, their thoughts and their prayers, and without their devotion to justice I would not be here in Britain now.”
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.
It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs.