Wednesday, November 30, 2011

U.S. Release Shaker Aamer! (Letter from his attorney to UK Foreign Secretary)

The following is reposted from Andy Worthington's excellent blog, where he has posted a heart-breaking update on the condition of the last of the British Guantanamo prisoners, Shaker Aamer. Aamer, who has a British wife and four British children, has been imprisoned and tortured, held for many years in solitary confinement, even though he has never been charged with any crime!

Aamer was brutally beaten on the same 2006 night when three Guantanamo prisoners were likely murdered at Guantanamo, their deaths covered up as suicides. Some believe, as Worthington notes, that Aamer, who was cleared for release from Guantanamo some years back, is being held because of what he knows about that ominous night's crime.

As Andy writes, "if you would like to add your voice to those pressing for Shaker Aamer’s return, you can email William Hague here or you can write to him at the following address: The Foreign Secretary, William Hague MP, The Foreign and Commonwealth Office, King Charles Street, London SW1A 2AH."
Clive Stafford Smith’s letter to William Hague regarding Shaker Aamer, November 18, 2011

Rt. Hon. William Hague
Foreign & Commonwealth Office
King Charles Street London

Re: Shaker Aamer & Guantánamo Bay

Dear Mr Hague:

I am writing to you urgently from Miami International Airport. I have just flown in from Guantánamo Bay where I visited Shaker Aamer yesterday. While there are aspects of that visit that I may not divulge due to US classification rules, I am permitted to relay my impressions, as well as detail the materials that were unclassified yesterday.

These give great cause for concern. Mr Aamer has suffered abuse that is unfathomable in the twenty-first century. One of the many areas of concern is his physical health.

Mr Aamer has now been held in isolation for more than two years. The US authorities may quibble about the term “isolation” (they have been known to do so in the past), but nothing can change the fact that Mr Aamer has been held in a solitary cell for that time, and much more over the past ten years. He has been thus punished because he continues to insist on the most basic elements of justice: that he be given a fair trial.

He has listed for counsel the following physical ailments that currently afflict him:

Arthritis in the knees and fingers, stemming from his abuse in custody;
Serious asthma problems (exacerbated, almost to the point of asphyxiation, when the US military sprays him with pepper spray during their periodic forcible cell extractions, or FCEs);
Heartburn and acid reflux exacerbated by the diet;
Prostate pain, with serious problems with urination;
Problems with his ears, including the loss of balance and dizziness;
Neck, shoulder and back pain resulting from the beatings that he has suffered;
Serious infection of his nails;
Ring worm and itchiness between his legs;
Constant haemorrhoids and rectal pain;
Extreme Kidney pain.

He also complains of E-N-T problems, serious insomnia, nerve problems in his right leg, and so forth. I can directly attest to various of these problems. For example, if the US insists that his food is of good quality, I can tell you that I tasted the lunch that he was given yesterday and it was revolting. I observed the infection of his left thumb, his right thumb, and his right index and middle finger nails, and it is like nothing I have seen before, rendering the nail soft and crumbling off the digit.

I do not think it is stretching matters to say that he is gradually dying in Guantánamo Bay.

This makes it all the more urgent that we get an independent medical assessment of him. However, ultimately there is only one solution, which is to get him out of Guantánamo Bay, home to his family in London. I should note that on February 14th he will have been in Guantánamo Bay for ten years; the anniversary coincides with the tenth birthday of his youngest child, who he has never met.

I remain,
Yours sincerely,
Clive A. Stafford Smith, Director

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