Shaker Aamer: Police investigation 'vital'. But release and return to UK is the 'immediate priority'

Responding to reports that the UK Metropolitan Police are investigating allegations that UK security services were complicit in the torture of Shaker Aamer (41), a UK resident who has been held at Guantánamo Bay for eight years, Amnesty International UK counter-terrorism campaigner Sara Mac Neice said:

“The Met’s investigation into possible UK complicity in Shaker Aamer’s torture is vital - just as it is with Binyam Mohamed.

“What is still needed, of course, is an independent and wide-ranging inquiry into all aspects of the UK’s alleged involvement in human rights abuses like rendition, secret detention and torture.”

“Meanwhile, it’s an absolute disgrace that Shaker Aamer has been held without charge or trial for eight years at Guantánamo and it’s now imperative that the UK government starts to make real efforts to secure his release. This is the immediate priority.”

Background

Shaker Aamer was originally detained by Afghan forces in the autumn of 2001. Subsequently transferred to US custody in Afghanistan, he was then (in February 2002) sent to Guantánamo, where he has remained ever since. At Guantánamo Shaker Aamer has been involved in protests against conditions at the camp, including by organising hunger strikes, for which he has reportedly been punished by being held in solitary confinement for several years consecutively.

Through his lawyers Aamer has alleged that he was tortured numerous times in Afghanistan, including by US officials while British personnel were also present. He has also alleged that he has been tortured at Guantánamo. Until recently the UK government had refused to allow the disclosure of documents that his lawyers believed would help to establish details of his mistreatment and how false confessions under torture have contributed to his extended detention at Guantánamo.

Meanwhile, Amnesty is calling on the UK government to seek the release of another Guantánamo prisoner - Ahmed Belbacha - an Algerian national who has previously lived in the UK. Amnesty is concerned that if he is forcibly sent from Guantánamo to Algeria, Ahmed Belbacha would be at risk of torture or imprisonment.

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