'Everything in Gitmo whimsical, political'

© Peter Nicholls
Gitmo has no legal basis; everything is whimsical and political about it, says Joanna McInnes, co-director of the movement 'We Stand With Shaker'. We don’t know why Shaker Aamer was held and I don’t know whether we will ever know, she adds.

RT: What do you think about the timing of Shaker's release?

Joanne McInnes: It was a shame. We were expecting him back last Sunday. There are just so many rumors flying around. We don’t know what the delay was about. Whether it was on our end or at the Guantanamo end…

RT: Why did it take so long for him to be freed?

JM: Yes, it has been thirteen and a half years. Everything in Guantanamo is whimsical. How can you clear a man and then keep him for another seven years? Which is the story of half the men in there. This place has no legal basis, everything is sort of whimsical and political. So, we don’t know why he has been held and I don’t know whether we will ever know. I am certain that there will be investigations. We will be pushing for all sorts of investigations here as to what the obstruction was.

RT: What's next for Shaker when he returns home?

JM: He needs urgent medical care with doctors that he trusts - he had really bad experience with the doctors in Guantanamo, which left him with the legacy of not trusting doctors, which is understandable because they just have been sort of complicit in his torture there. …It is really heartening to know that he is going to have some TLC from the medical profession as well as from his family, of course.  

RT: Why did you join this campaign in support of Shaker?

JM: I went to hear Clive Stafford Smith, who is Shaker’s lawyer, and Andy Worthington who is now the Co-director of 'We stand with Shaker'; I went to hear them speak at another campaign - ‘Save Shaker Aamer’ campaign - rally. And I thought this cannot be that hard - the man is cleared for release, let’s just get a few celebrities involved and… And then sort of hundred celebrities and MPs [got involved] later. I made this giant inflatable that was Andy Worthington’s idea. And we used that inflatable to invite people to stand with it and it became a photo campaign that we put up in social media. And that led to open letters that we got everyone to sign to [David] Cameron, to [Barack] Obama. And we got conservatives MPs involved and the Daily Mail came on board. It was really important…I know that there are people who are going to say awful things about him. But he has the support of the media and MPs support. I had never met an MP who hadn’t been calling for his release. So, he has got a lot of friends here in the UK, thank goodness.    

RT: How symbolic do you think this case is in light of the relationship between London and Washington?

JM: It is very hard to know that. I know that the MPs expressed great frustration with the relationship with the US. And they’ve used the term ‘slap in the face’. Because they have been calling and calling for his release. And really no one ever came up with a good explanation as to why he continued to be held. David Cameron asked Obama for his release as early as January of this year, twice this year, in fact. I think the second time was in March or April. And then we had our MP delegation to Washington in May. They were rather shocked to find out that they met leading senators there, and senators knew nothing of Shaker or that David Cameron had asked for him to be returned.

Detainees in orange jumpsuits sit in a holding area under the watchful eyes of military police during in-processing to the temporary detention facility at Camp X-Ray of Naval Base Guantanamo Bay © Stringer

Andy Worthington, freelance investigative journalist, told RT what type of conditions Shaker Aamer was subjected to for the past 13 years:

"We managed to hear a lot, partly through his lawyers and partly the statement that he made to the Metropolitan Police a few years ago because they were investigating his claims. The British agents were in the room in Afghanistan when he was being abused by the US operatives. So, things have emerged over the years. I think it is clear that Shaker Aamer was treated very brutally when he was first in custody in Afghanistan. As a result of that he made a number of false statements.

And since he’s been in Guantanamo from the beginning. Shaker has campaigned relentlessly in US custody against the manner in which he and others have been treated. He’s demanded they should be treated according to established rules and regulations regarding prisoners which, of course, they didn’t do after 9/11. And as a result of that he has been treated very badly in Guantanamo; he spent a lot of time in solitary confinement because the US authorities try to isolate prisoners who could have any influence over other prisoners like Shaker Aamer, for example, who is articulate and outspoken. And he has was also regularly subjected to violence in Guantanamo. Because they have that ‘five man rapid response team’ – heavily armed guys in Guantanamo and if you infringed the rules in any way they come along and they beat you up. And Shaker has made a point of resisting what he has been told to do in Guantanamo repeatedly on many occasions and as a result he has been subjected to physical violence…"

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