‘He was never a threat to any country’: UK MPs in US to lobby British Gitmo prisoner’s release
“He’s been twice cleared for release, by President Bush and later by President Obama, and this has still not happened,” Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn told RT. “We’re concerned for his future, we’re concerned for his health, and we’re concerned for justice, because there’s no charge against him, there’s no legal process against him. He is a man that should be freed.”
“We’ve come as a very broad representation from the British Parliament,” Corbyn’s Conservative colleague Andrew Mitchell said. “From the left to the right, the four of us probably represent the widest spectrum of British political views. But on this issue the House of Commons in Britain is absolutely clear, that we unanimously want Shaker Aamer returned from Guantanamo.”
A 48-year-old Saudi citizen with British residency, Aamer has been held in the Guantanamo Bay prison for terror suspects for well over 13 years. He was initially held in Kabul, while doing voluntary work for an Islamic charity. He was accused of being a recruiter and financier for the Al-Qaeda terrorist network, although throughout his stay in Guantanamo, no charges have been brought against him. Aamer and his lawyers say he was tortured while in custody and while being transferred to Guantanamo.
Shaker Aamer has a wife and four children in the UK, including a 13-year-old son he has never seen. His health has been deteriorating lately, according to his lawyers and medics. “He needs to be brought back to his family in London not only because it is the right judicial decision in the interest of justice,” Andrew Mitchell had told RT in an earlier interview, “But also because there are credible medical reports that he is not terribly well, and therefore in his family, with their support structure in London, he will be able to make the necessary recovery.”
Jeremy Corbyn said the reasons for Aamer long stay in Guantanamo, despite him being twice cleared for release, are unclear: “There’s much speculation. Either he knows too much, or has seen too much, or Saudi Arabia has put pressure on... I have never been given a definitive reason as to why he’s not been released.”
Andrew Mitchell believes Aamer’s case could be stuck in red tape. “We hope that it is merely bureaucratic inertia. That is why we are going, to try and cut through these difficulties in securing his release,” he said prior to going to Washington.
Both MPs are optimistic about the results of their visit, Mitchell saying the delegation “met a great deal of sympathy” from the senators they were meeting with. When asked whether they are going to talk to any members of the presidential administration, Jeremy Corbyn told RT the visit will encompass “all levels of government.”
In a January visit to Washington, UK Prime Minister David Cameron urged President Barack Obama to release Shaker Aamer, to which Obama responded with a promise to “prioritize” the review of his case. In April, a Washington Post report claimed the US president was planning to release Aamer by the end of 2015 along with half of Guantanamo inmates. It is reportedly part of a push to close the prison down – a promise he made during both his election campaigns.