February 14th marks 11 years of detention without charge at Guantanamo
(Washington, DC) — Amnesty International will present more than 50,000 petitions, addressed to President Barack Obama, to the White House and to the U.S. embassy in London on Thursday, February 14th, calling for Shaker Aamer, the last former U.K. resident held at Guantánamo Bay, to be released immediately unless he is to be charged and fairly tried in federal court.
Shaker Aamer was taken to the U.S.-controlled detention center at Guantánamo Bay on February 14, 2002, where he has languished ever since. Aamer has never been charged with an offense, and he remains detained despite the U.S. authorities approving him for transfer out of the camp in 2009. The British government has repeatedly called for his release.
"Shaker Aamer’s case is unique in that he’s been cleared for transfer, and the British government says he should be free with his wife and children in London," said Zeke Johnson, Amnesty International USA's Security and Human Rights campaign director. "The United States should immediately release Shaker to the United Kingdom, unless he is to be charged and fairly tried. There must be no delay."
In addition to the petition deliveries, Amnesty International members will send "valentines" to President Obama urging him to charge or release Shaker Aamer. The action can be viewed at www.amnestyusa.org/shakervalentine.
Aamer is one of 166 detainees still held at Guantánamo. All detainees must either be charged and fairly tried in federal court, or be released to countries that will respect their human rights. The military commission system, resuming again this week with pre-trial motions in the case against Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and the other alleged 9/11 co-conspirators, does not meet international fair trial standards.
Shaker Aamer was arrested by Afghan forces on November 24, 2001 in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, and subsequently transferred to U.S. custody. Aamer is originally from Saudi Arabia. His wife and four children are all U.K. nationals who live in south London. Aamer had permission to live indefinitely in the U.K. on the basis of his marriage to a U.K. national at the time of his original detention.
Via his lawyers, Aamer has alleged he was subjected to torture, including severe beatings and other ill-treatment while held in secret U.S. detention in Afghanistan in early 2002. He says that, as well as U.S. officials, men claiming to be U.K. Security Service (MI5) officers were present at interrogations during which his head was "repeatedly banged so hard against a wall that it bounced". According to his lawyers, throughout much of his detention he has been held in solitary confinement. Aamer speaks fluent English, and his lawyers understand he has been involved in protesting against conditions at the camp, including participating in hunger strikes and speaking out on behalf of other detainees. They believe he has been subjected to prolonged isolation and frequent ill-treatment as punishment for his defiance against his indefinite detention and ill-treatment.
For more information, please visit www.amnestyusa.org.
Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 3 million supporters, activists and volunteers in more than 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.