'Embarrassing knowledge' keeps Shaker Aamer in GITMO

'Embarrassing knowledge' keeps Shaker Aamer in GITMO
Instead of standing up for justice and the rule of law the US puts someone in Cuba and denies them the rule of law, says Clive Stafford Smith, Shaker Aamer's lawyer.

Shaker Aamer, the last British resident held in Guantanamo, is going on hunger strike to protest his delayed release after 13 years without charge.

READ MORE: Don’t forget me’: Last British Guantanamo detainee issues desperate plea

RT: Why do US authorities continue to keep Shaker Aamer in prison and refuse to send him back to the UK?

Clive Stafford Smith: I think it has always been the fact that Shaker knows unique information, and very simply it’s this: he was in Bagram [US] Air Force base at the same time as a chap called al-Shaykh al-Libi, who was then taken out in a coffin, taken to Egypt and tortured. Al-Libi then said that Saddam Hussein and Al-Qaeda were in league with weapons of mass destruction, which was then quoted by President [George] Bush himself on October 7, 2002 as a reason to go to war in Iraq.

Now obviously you look at what’s happening in the Middle East now, and you look at the disaster of the whole Iraq affair, you know that that is possibly the single most embarrassing, horrendous abuse of torture that the US had in the whole ghastly experiment with it.

RT: Shaker has been taken seriously by the US. Do you think it’s reasonable, because he looks pretty harmless?

CSS: They always take Shaker seriously, because one of the other reasons that he is not terribly liked in Guantanamo, even though he is a charming chap, is that he is stood up for the rights both of himself and for others. He is very eloquent in English, he is very outspoken. So you have to take him seriously, because he’s been a serious guy.

READ MORE: Shaker Aamer case: Release of UK’s’ Gitmo’ prisoner hampered

RT: If he does leave the prison soon, what will be the next steps practically: what happens, where does he go, how does it work?

CSS: The first thing he does is get on a plane, it will be an RAF plane that will take him to London. And the first thing we do then - assuming that the British government sets him free immediately, which I am confident they will - is we take him to hospital. I think he needs some serious hospital treatment. He has not had meaningful medical care for several years. He is very worried that he has prostate cancer, I hope to goodness that is not true. But obviously we need to get him proper health care immediately in Britain and immediately reunite him with his wife.

READ MORE: Shaker Aamer fears he won’t leave Gitmo alive, despite promised release

RT: What could you say about the whole war prison system in the US?

CSS: Well, look, I am an American and I am very sad for us as Americans… Instead of standing up for what we really should believe in, which is justice and the rule of law, we put someone in Cuba and we deny them the rule of law and that makes us hypocrites. And what we need to do is rebuild our reputation for doing the right thing – and there is a lot of work to be done on that.


The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.