Shaker Aamer : biography
Shaker Aamer (born 12 December 1968) 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 .
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. 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.
Aamer's mental and physical health has been declining over the years, as he has participated in hunger strikes to protest detention condition and been held in solitary confinement much of the time. 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 number of people there have repeatedly called for his release.
Aamer's allegations about Bagram interrogations
In September 2009 Zachary Katznelson, a Reprieve lawyer, said that Aamer had told of suffering severe beatings at the Bagram facility. Aamer said 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. Following one severe beating, he recovered from being stunned to find that all the interrogators had left the room and put a pistol on the table. He did not find out 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 the "MI5" interrogators told him he had two choices: (1) agree to spy on suspected jihadists in the United Kingdom; or (2) remain in US custody. He said that guards/agents repeatedly knocked his head against the wall while an MI5 officer was 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 former detainees have alleged similar mistreatment by MI5 and MI6 agents, including torture. They filed suit against the British government over their mistreatment and torture. In November 2010, the British government settled the suit, paying the detainees 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.
Capture and allegations
Aamer took his family to Afghanistan in 2001 where he was working for an Islamic charity. He was working for the charity when the U.S. invaded the country later that year. The Northern Alliance took him into custody in Jalalabad on 24 November 2001, and passed him to the Americans. The US routinely paid ransom for Arabs handed over to them. They interrogated Aamer at Bagram Theater Internment Facility and transported him to Guantánamo on 14 February 2002.
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