Prisoner Cleared for Release Marks 10 Years of Captivity at Guantanamo

February 14, 2012

Shaker AamerToday is the tenth anniversary of Shaker Aamer’s arrival at Guantanamo Bay. Even though he was cleared for release in 2007, he still languishes in a cell there today.

Shaker is a British resident of Saudi descent. He was captured in Afghanistan in December 2001 and was one of the first detainees transferred to Guantanamo when it opened in 2002.

We have seen much of the intelligence on which the US originally based its decision to hold Shaker courtesy of the WikiLeaks website.

Shaker’s Detainee Assessment Brief (DAB) revealed that the bulk of the case against him had been assembled from the testimony of other detainees at Guantanamo.

Prisoners with something to gain from cooperating with their jailers don’t make the most credible of witnesses.

Shaker’s DAB also reveals that he has been a difficult prisoner.  He is described by the US authorities as being “non-compliant and hostile to the guard force and staff” and to have amassed more than 100 disciplinary infractions.

Of course, if the charges against him are false it is not difficult to understand why after ten years of harsh confinement he might be somewhat fractious.

What we do know for sure is that Shaker was cleared for release by both the Bush administration in 2007 and the Obama administration in 2009.

We also know that the two countries who know Shaker best — Britain and Saudi Arabia — have both said that they have no plans to prosecute Shaker if he is returned to their jurisdiction.

Indeed, the British government is actively campaigning for his repatriation.

So, why is Shaker Aamer still being detained in Guantanamo? The short answer is that we don’t know, but at this point it seems willful and cruel.

Shaker has never been charged with a crime. He has four children who have not seen their father for a decade. He has a wife who has been forced to raise their children alone. He has an adoptive home whose government – America’s closest and most reliable ally – wants him back.

It just makes sense to send him home, and that is why Amnesty International has taken up his case.

You can play your part now by calling on the US authorities to either charge Shaker Aamer in federal court or let him go home without a stain on his character. That is the way it is supposed to work in a democracy.

Ten years detention without charge is ten years too long. Help us close Guantanamo, one prisoner at a time — if that’s what it takes.