[Ppnews] 10 years in Guantánamo Bay, Shaker Aamer held under the harshest conditions

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Mon Feb 13 10:53:14 EST 2012

Mon 13 February 2012

Ten years after his arrival in Guantánamo Bay, 
British resident 
Aamer remains held under the harshest condition

Tomorrow marks ten years since Londoner Shaker 
Aamer was transferred to the US military prison 
in Guantánamo Bay, where he has since been abused 
and held in punishing isolation but never charged with any crime.

Shaker arrived in Guantánamo Bay on the same day 
– Valentine’s Day 2002 – that his youngest child 
was born, a child he has never met. He was 
cleared for release by the Bush Administration in 
2007, and it has been publicly reported that he 
has also been cleared by the Obama 
Administration.  He wishes to rejoin his British 
wife and four British children in the UK.

A new law opens an avenue for Shaker’s possible 
release: it may now be done without a personal 
certification from US Secretary of Defense Leon 
Panetta. The question is whether the US will do 
it – no prisoner has been released now for a full year.

Reprieve's director Clive Stafford Smith, and 
Legal Director Cori Crider, recently visited Shaker Aamer in Guantánamo Bay:

Shaker reports his most recent isolation being 
for several months, starting on July 15, 2011. It 
is not for doing anything wrong, merely asserting 
the human rights of his fellow prisoners. “There 
is meant to be a 30 day maximum on isolation as a 
punishment,” he says. “So it’s not called 
isolation any more it’s called ‘separation.’” He 
is in a cell with no view to the outside, just a 
one metre by 30 centimetres of opaque glass, and 
no real toilet, just a hole in the ground.

Shaker reports that he has been reading (and 
re-reading) 1984 by George Orwell.  It has made a 
big impact on him. “You must read this book 
because you need to understand what is happening 
here in Guantánamo. Torture is for torture, the system is for the system.”

In many ways, Shaker reports that the torture is 
worse today than it was before. “Please torture 
me the old way,” says Shaker. “Here they destroy 
people mentally and physically without leaving marks.”

Shaker does not expect President Obama to do 
anything better than his predecessor, President 
Bush. Presidents are, he thinks, hemmed in by the 
powers that surround them: “The White House is a 
straitjacket. You just wear it.”

Immediately following his visit with Shaker, 
Reprieve’s director 
to Foreign Secretary William Hague concerning the 
disastrous physical ailments that Shaker suffers 
– these details have now been cleared through the 
US censorship process and the letter is publicly available.

Reprieve’s legal director Cori Crider said: 
“Shaker is no longer the man he was ten years 
ago: he has dropped to perhaps 150 pounds, losing 
forty percent of his body weight; his face bears 
the marks of suffering and of time passing; and 
while he has  an irrepressible spirit, the 
authorities seem determined to grind him down to 
nothing. The British Government must do more - 
not only in pushing for his release, but in 
getting his living conditions eased. While the US 
military boasts about improvements in the 
conditions at GTMO for many, it is no 
exaggeration to say that the conditions of Shaker 
Aamer's imprisonment have long been, and remain, the harshest at the base."

Reprieve’s director Clive Stafford Smith said: 
“It is inconceivable that our closest ally could 
hold Shaker, the father of four little British 
children, for ten years without charge, and for 
five years after he has been cleared for release. 
Surely the UK is not totally impotent when it 
comes to protecting such basic human rights.”


Notes to editors

1. For further information please go to 
or contact Donald Campbell or Katherine O'Shea in 
Reprieve’s press office on +44 (0)20 7427 1082

2. Read Clive Stafford Smith's 
letter to Foreign Secretary William Hague on Shaker Aamer.

a legal action charity, uses the law to enforce 
the human rights of prisoners, from death row to 
Guantánamo Bay. Reprieve investigates, litigates 
and educates, working on the frontline, to 
provide legal support to prisoners unable to pay 
for it themselves. Reprieve promotes the rule of 
law around the world, securing each person’s 
right to a fair trial and saving lives.  Clive 
Stafford Smith is the founder of Reprieve and has 
spent 25 years working on behalf of people facing the death penalty in the USA.

Reprieve’s current casework involves representing 
in the US prison at Guantánamo Bay, assisting 
over 70 
facing the death penalty around the world, and 
conducting ongoing 
into the rendition and the secret detention of 
‘ghost prisoners’ in the so-called ‘war on 
terror.’ Follow Reprieve on twitter: 
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