Shaker Aamer torture claims: Amnesty calls for inquiry on Gitmo 14th anniversary

Shaker Aamer, the last British resident held at Guantanamo Bay. © Justin Tallis
British authorities must examine claims made by former Guantanamo Bay detainee Shaker Aamer, who says he was tortured during his long internment in the US prison, Amnesty International has said.

Aamer was the last British prisoner to be released from the notorious prison in Cuba in October 2015, having been held at Guantanamo without charge since 2003 amid accusations of having links with Al-Qaeda – something he denies. 

The former prisoner alleges that both prior to and during his time at Guantanamo he was tortured by US officials.

Aamer also claims to have been tortured in Afghanistan in early 2002, where he says he believes MI5 officers were present during his interrogation, which involved violence by US officials, including an episode in which his head was “repeatedly banged so hard against a wall that it bounced.”

US President Barack Obama pledged to close the detention center back in 2008. However, more than 100 prisoners remain at the facility, despite a Senate report revealing the extent of CIA torture within its walls.

Last week two Yemeni detainees were transferred out of Guantanamo, bringing the number of prisoners to 104.
Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen called for a full investigation into the torture claims.

“Shaker Aamer’s chilling allegation that he was tortured in the presence of British agents in Afghanistan should be fully investigated as part of an independent, judge-led inquiry into a whole set of allegations that UK officials were involved in kidnap, detention and torture overseas during the ‘war on terror’.

Shockingly, Mr Aamer was held for the vast majority of the 14 full years of Guantánamo’s disgraceful existence. Getting to the bottom of what happened to him is part of understanding what has happened at this notorious place,” she said.

Upon his return to the UK, Aamer gave an interview to the Mail on Sunday in which he described how officials in Guantanamo had confiscated photos of his family sent by his wife.

They then displayed them in the interrogation room as a means to manipulate him, Aamer said.

“I go inside and I see pictures all over the wall – big pictures, small pictures, everywhere. I will not forget that day because I left them when they were little kids, and I could see they had grown up. They wanted to break me down and they told me: if you want your kids’ pictures, you have to talk to us.”

The father of four also spoke of his joy at being reunited with his wife.

“At last, the moment I’d dreamt of came, and she came through the door. That instant washed away the pain of 14 years. It washed away the tiredness, the agony, the stress. It was like it no longer existed. I hugged her, she hugged me, and we just wept. I stayed with her that night and we couldn’t sleep, actually – we were just talking and talking.”