US ‘shamefully’ refuse to release Shaker Aamer from Guantanamo despite UK pressure
American authorities are “shamefully” refusing to release Shaker Aamer, the last British resident detained at Guantanamo Bay, despite calls from Prime Minister David Cameron for the prisoner to be freed, a lawyer has claimed.
Aamer’s legal counsel Ramzi Kassem called on the British government to pressure the White House further after President Barack Obama promised to “prioritize” his case in January.
Kassem also blasted the US government for refusing to allow Aamer access to independent doctors, despite concerns over the neutrality of army medical personnel.
The New York-based lawyer said the physical condition of Aamer, who has been imprisoned without trial for 14 years, “deteriorates with each passing day.”
Kassem filed a 26-page motion at a court in Washington calling for the British resident to be examined by two independent doctors and an army doctor to gauge how Aamer is coping with post-traumatic stress.
The Department of Defense has rejected the request, claiming it is too “difficult.”
Aamer’s last independent assessment took place in October 2013, when Californian psychiatrist Dr. Emily Keram described he had been mentally “destroyed” by interrogators, who allegedly subjected him to sleep deprivation and beatings.
Law professor Kassem expressed dismay at the reluctance of US authorities to release Aamer.
“It is truly shameful that we have to litigate every step of the way despite the prime minister’s demand and the president’s pledge to prioritize Shaker’s case,” he said.
“The UK government must press the White House to make good on its promise. The only thing more shameful are the arguments the US government is making in court to prevent Shaker’s examination.”
Cameron raised the issue with Obama on his official visit to the US earlier this year.
Obama promised to “prioritize” the case in January, but Aamer’s legal team claim nothing has been done to progress his case.
Writing in the Guardian last Friday, Aamer’s UK lawyer Clive Stafford Smith claimed the US military has deliberately ignored Obama’s order in breach of the constitution.
“President Obama, it seems, has personally ordered Aamer’s release, and his subordinates have ignored and thwarted his order,” Smith wrote.
“The contravention of the president’s orders indicates that there is a profound problem with the state of democracy in America.”
Kassem slammed the US government for not taking Aamer’s physical and mental health seriously.
He condemned the United States’ “self-servingly attempts to dismiss Mr. Aamer’s reliably-diagnosed and grave ailments as only ‘minor long-term impairments.’”
Aamer has never been charged with a crime or faced trial since he arrived at the high security prison in Cuba.
In describing his treatment at Guantanamo Bay, Aamer said he was stripped of his pride.
“I was not a human being any more. I meant nothing to them. I lost my dignity, my pride,” he said.
“I had to take off my underwear and hand it to them. I had sleep deprivation for 11 days. That made me crazy. They poured cold water over me. They kept me standing for 20 hours a day. I had to hold my hands and arms out.
“All of the statements I made at Bagram were during the sleep deprivation. I would have said anything. I told them, ‘I will tell you I am Bin Laden if you want me to,’” he said.
Aamer was arrested in 2001 in Afghanistan and subsequently moved to Guantanamo Bay, where in 2007 the US military claimed he was a “close associate” of Osama Bin Laden and a “recruiter, financier, and facilitator” for Al-Qaeda.
The Saudi citizen has always insisted he was only in the country to perform charitable work and said he confessed to being a jihadist while being tortured at the hands of the CIA.