Petition demands Guantanamo prisoner Shaker Aamer’s release
British celebrities and MPs are petitioning for the release of the last British detainee in Guantanamo Bay, who has been held at the notorious prison for almost 13 years without charge.
In an open letter published in the Daily Mail, they called Shaker Aamer's continued detention “shocking.” The ‘We Stand with Shaker’ campaign urged Prime Minister David Cameron to “pick up the phone to President Obama, and bring Shaker Aamer home.”
Aamer is a Saudi Arabian national with residency in Britain, whose wife and four children live in London.
“What the US would like to do with Mr Aamer is irrelevant, as the British Government has a non-negotiable responsibility to secure the return of Mr Aamer, given his status as a legal British resident,” the letter read.
Pink Floyd co-founder Roger Waters, singer Sophie Ellis-Bextor and comedian Frankie Boyle have signed the petition, along with several MPs from the Conservative and Labour parties.
“We can find no reason why, given the special relationship between our two countries, the PM cannot call President Obama and tell him that Mr Aamer must be returned to the UK as swiftly as possible,” the letter said.
Aamer is accused of having worked for Osama Bin Laden in Afghanistan and that he was a key recruiter in Britain, and supporter of Al-Qaeda. Aamer was captured in Afghanistan in December 2001 and was transferred to Guantanamo in February 2002.
The letter said Aamer had been cleared for release twice by US authorities, in 2007 and 2009, but this had never gone ahead and that there may be plans to deport him to Saudi Arabia.
“From there, Mr Aamer would be unable to talk about the torture and abuse he has witnessed and personally experienced during his long imprisonment,” it said.
The petition comes after the release of a damning US Senate report into the CIA’s torture of Al-Qaeda detainees.
Four Syrians, a Palestinian and a Tunisian left Guantanamo earlier this month for Uruguay, which means 19 people have been released so far this year.
The 46-year-old’s lawyers say he is being held at the base in Cuba because intelligence officials fear he could potentially expose more evidence of the torture inflicted on him and fellow detainees.