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Shaker Aamer is a Saudi Arabian citizen and the last British resident held by the United States in the Guantanamo Bay detention camps, in Cuba. He was captured in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, on 24 November 2001 and was brought to Guantánamo on 14 February 2002, where he has now been held for Template:For year month day.
According to documents published in the Guantanamo Bay files leak, the US military Joint Task Force Guantanamo believed in November 2007 that Aamer had led a unit of fighters in Afghanistan, including the Battle of Tora Bora, while his family was paid a stipend by Osama bin Laden. The file asserts past associations with Richard Reid and Zacarias Moussaoui. Clive Stafford Smith a human rights lawyer said the leaked documents would not stand up in court. He pointed out that part of the evidence comes from an unreliable witness and that confessions Aamer made had been obtained through torture. Mr Aamer’s father-in-law, Saaed Ahmed Siddique, said: "All of these claims have no basis. If any of this was true he would be in a court now." The Bush administration acknowledged later that it had no evidence against Aamer.
Aamer has never been charged with any wrongdoing and has never received a trial and his lawyer says he is "totally innocent." He has been cleared for release by the Bush administration in 2007, and the Obama administration in 2009. but Aamer remains in Guantánamo. He has been described as a charismatic leader who spoke up and fought for the rights of fellow prisoners and some have speculated that this might be a reason for his continued detention. Aamer alleges that he has been subject to torture while in detention.
Mr Aamer's mental and physical health has been declining over the years, as he has participated in hunger strikes to protest detention condition and spent much of his time held in solitary confinement. He has lost 40 per cent of his body weight in captivity. After a visit in November 2011 Clive Stafford Smith said, "I do not think it is stretching matters to say that he is gradually dying in Guantanamo Bay." The UK government has been demanding his release for years and a growing number of people from all walks of life have started campaigning for him.
Family, and personal life
Aamer was born and grew up in Medina in Saudi Arabia. He left the country at the age of 17, living and traveling in America, Europe and the Middle East. He moved to the United Kingdom in 1996 where he met his British wife, Zin. They married in 1997 and have four British children. Aamer has never met his youngest son Faris, who was born after his imprisonment. Aamer worked as an Arabic translator for London law firms. Some of the solicitors he worked for dealt with immigration cases. In his spare time Aamer helped refugees find accommodation and offered them advice on their struggles with the Home Office.
Aamer's family, now live in Battersea, south London, and his wife Zin suffers from depression and mental episodes since his arrest. Saeed Siddique, Aamer's father-in-law, said in 2011, "When he was captured, Shaker offered to let my daughter divorce him, but she said, 'No, I will wait for you.' She is still waiting."
On July 7, 2014, The Times of London reported that Aamer's lawyer assert that the reason Aamer remains in detention years after all the other British residents have been repatriated is that senior US officials have blocked his release because they fear he will testify on their role in torture carried out long after official permission to use torture had been withdrawn.
Capture, and allegations
Aamer was working for a Saudi charity in Afghanistan when the U.S. invaded. Aamer was picked up by the Northern Alliance in Jalalabad on 24 November 2001 and handed over to the Americans, who transferred him to Guantánamo on 14 February 2002.
According to documents published in the Guantanamo Bay files leak, the US military Joint Task Force Guantanamo believed in November 2007, partly based on evidence given by informant and fellow detainee Yasim Muhammed Basardah, that Aamer was a “recruiter, financier, and facilitator” for al-Qaeda, The leaked documents alleged that had confessed to interrogators that he was in Tora Bora with Osama bin Laden at the time of the US bombing. Aamer denied the allegations.
Clive Stafford Smith of Reprieve said the evidence against his client "would not stand up in court." He pointed out that part of the evidence comes from Basardah, whom American judges found to be “utterly incredible” and who was tortured and "promised all sorts of things."
Bagram, MI5 involvement, torture allegations
In September 2009 another Reprieve lawyer, Zachary Katznelson, repeated Aamer's accounts of severe beatings in the Bagram Theater Internment Facility. Aamer had told him that close to a dozen men had beaten him, including interrogators who represented themselves as officers of MI5, the United Kingdom's internal counter-terrorism agency. Aamer described being terrified following one severe beating, when he recovered from being stunned by the beating he found all his interrogators had left the room and had left a pistol on the table. He said he didn't know if the pistol was loaded. He said it occurred to him that it had been left either so he could kill himself, or that, if he picked it up, he could be shot and killed on the excuse he was trying to shoot them.
Aamer says that interrogators in Afghanistan, who represented themselves as MI5 officers, told him he had two choices: (1) agree to spy on suspected jihadists in the United Kingdom; or (2) remain in US custody. Aamer also alleges that his head was repeatedly bounced against the wall while MI5 officers were in the room. "All I know is that I felt someone grab my head and start beating my head into the back wall – so hard that my head was bouncing. And they were shouting that they would kill me or I would die."
Fifteen other British detainees have alleged similar mistreatment by the MI5 and MI6 including torture. The British government paid them millions of pounds in compensation. Aamer is also on the compensation list and part of the deal but details are not known as most of the deal is still secret.
Aamer has been described as unofficial spokesman for the prisoners. He is charismatic and spoke up for the welfare of other prisoners, negotiating with camp commanders and organizing protests against cruel treatment. He organized and participated in a hunger strike in 2005 were he lost half of his weight. He demanded the treatment of prisoners in a manner consistent with the Geneva Convention, allowing the detainees to form a grievance committee and was promised a healthier diet for the prisoners after he agreed to end the hunger strike. His lawyer Stafford Smith said the grievance committee was formed, but that the camp authorities disbanded it after a few days. American spokesmen Major Jeffrey Weir denied that the Americans had ever agreed to any conditions.
Since then Aamer has been taking part in further hunger strikes and has been held in solitary confinement for most of the time. His lawyers describe his solitary confinement as "cruel" and said his health has been affected to a point were they fear for his life. Clive Stafford Smith said Aamer "is "falling apart at the seams."
Katznelson filed a motion to enforce the Geneva Conventions on his behalf on 19 September 2006. And on 18 September 2006, Aamer's attorneys filed a 16 page motion arguing for his removal from isolation in Guantanamo Bay prison. The motion alleges that Aamer had been held in solitary confinement for 360 days at the time of filing, and was tortured by beatings, exposure to temperature extremes, and sleep deprivation, which together caused him to suffer to the point of becoming mentally unbalanced.
In September 2011, Aamer's lawyer Brent Mickum who saw him in Guantánamo alleges that Aamer was repeatedly beaten before their meetings and that Aamer's mental and physical health is deteriorating. "It felt like he has given up: that’s what 10 years, mostly in solitary confinement will do to a person,” he said.Binyam Mohamed, one of the Britons who occupied a cell one door down from Aamer, said after his release that he knows why Aamer is still in the prison camps.
"I would say the Americans are trying to keep him as silent as they could. It's not that he has anything. What happened in 2005 and 2006 is something that the Americans don't want the world to know – hunger strikes, and all the events that took place, until the three brothers who died ... insider information of all the events, probably. Obviously, Shaker doesn't have it, but the Americans think he may have some of it, and they don't like this kind of information being released."Clive Stafford Smith his lawyer and director of human rights organisation Reprieve, comes to a similar conclusion. He said:
"I have known Shaker for sometime, because he is so eloquent and outspoken about the injustices of Guantanamo he is very definitely viewed as a threat by the US. Not in the sense of being an extremist but in the sense of being someone who can rather eloquently criticise the nightmare that happened there."
Allegedly witness around the deaths of fellow detainees
Aamer said that he was beaten for hours and subjected to interrogation methods that included asphyxiation on 9 June 2006, the same day three fellow prisoner died in Guantanamo. Describing the event Aamer said that he was strapped to a chair, fully restrained at the head, arms and legs. When MPs pressed on pressure points all over his body: his temples, just under his jawline, in the hollow beneath his ears. They bent his nose repeatedly, pinched his thighs and feet. They inflicted pain to his eyes, bent his fingers until he screamed and when he screamed they cut off his airway and put a mask over him so he could not cry out.
Law professor Scott Horton published an award-winning article in Harper's Magazine in 2010, asserting that Aamer had been brought to "Camp No" a secret interrogation site with the three men who died on the day of the event. Horton described Aamer's account of cutting off his airways as "alarming" and he wrote "This is the same technique that appears to have been used on the three deceased prisoners." Colonel Michael Bumgarner the commander of the camps during the incident, named in Horton's article as being present during the interrogations, denied Horton's claims.
Horton wrote that Aamer's repatriation was being delayed so that he could not testify about the event on 9 June 2006 and his alleged torture in Bagram. He wrote: "American authorities may be concerned that Aamer, if released, could provide evidence against them in criminal investigations."
UK release negotiations
The United Kingdom government initially refused to intervene on the behalf of Guantánamo detainees who are legal British residents without being British citizens. Then in August 2007, Foreign Secretary David Miliband requested the release of Aamer and four other men, citing the fact they had all been granted refugee status, or similar leave, to remain in Britain prior to their capture by US forces. With the repatriation of Binyam Mohammed in February 2009, all British citizens and residents apart from Aamer have been released. 
In the following years UK government officials have repeatedly raised Aamer's case with the Americans. On a visit to the United States on 13 March 2009, when asked about Guantánamo captives, Home Secretary Jacqui Smith said that the U.S. administration has said they don't want to return him to the U.K. William Hague, the Foreign Secretary, raised Aamer's case again with Hillary Clinton, US Secretary of State, in November 2010, followed by ongoing meetings with other United States officials. In September 2011 Foreign Office Minister Alistair Burt said that the negotiations are ongoing and confidential.
Supporters of Aamer have criticized the UK government for not doing enough on his behalf, they urged the government to step up their efforts. The Independent revealed in January 2012, that the British government has spent £274,345 fighting in court to prevent Aamer's lawyers gaining access to evidence which may prove his innocence. The newspaper also revealed that Aamer has several serious medical complaints from years of "inhumane" detention conditions and that the UK gave false hope to his family.
Calls for his release
- In January 2010, his 12-year-old daughter Johina wrote a letter to Gordon Brown asking for his release.
- August, 2010, protesters disrupted a meeting that discussed plans to create a US Embassy near Battersea, the home of Mr. Aamer.
- On 11 December 2010 hundreds took to the streets in London near the US embassy to demand Aamer's release.
- In February 2011 Amnesty International calls Aamer's ongoing incarceration a "mockery of justice" and denounces the "cruel limbo" he has been left in. At the same time The Guardian reported that people had sent 12.000 emails to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and UK MP's in support of Aamer.
- In her 2011 album In The Current Climate singer-songwriter Sarah Gillespie sings an imaginary first person song of Aamer entitled How The West Was Won. Gillespie devoted the track to Aamer in the CD booklet.
- In May 2011 Students of University of St Andrews protest for the release of Aamer.
- In early 2012 approaching Aamer's completion of ten years imprisonment in Guantánamo campaigners step up efforts for his release. Among them Jane Ellison Tory MP for Battersea writing to Barack Obama to urge his release.
- In May 2011 Mark Saunders of http://www.spectacle.co.uk released the short film "Shaker Aamer: A Decade of Injustice".
- Poems From Guantánamo mentions "They Fight for Peace" written by Shaker Aamer
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- Shaker Aamer – biography
- Shaker Aamer – case history
- Shaker Aamer: UK man's nine years at Guantanamo has made a 'mockery' of Justice – Amnesty International
- Save Shaer Amer at SSAC