Open Letter to Prime Minister David Cameron urges his repatriation
London, UK – 15 December 2014
“Shaker Aamer is a British resident and father of four children who has been held by the US government without charge or trial in Guantanamo Bay prison for 13 years. During his detention, he has been tortured – almost certainly with the knowledge of the British security services and possibly with the collusion of the UK government. His torture and indefinite imprisonment without trial is a violation of international human rights law,” said Peter Tatchell, Director of the human rights organisation, the Peter Tatchell Foundation.
“Shaker has been cleared for release twice by the US government – in 2007 and again in 2009. Yet he still remains behind bars.
“Whatever the circumstances or reasons that led to his original arrest, and regardless of his political views, Shaker Aamer should not remain incarcerated in the absence of evidence and due legal process.
“Together with dozens of other people, today I signed an Open Letter to David Cameron, urging that he pressure President Obama to repatriate Shaker Aamer to Britain, where his family lives,” said Mr Tatchell.
Alongside an extensive, positive news story, the Open Letter was published in today’s Daily Mail newspaper: http://goo.gl/rSaZzG
Read the Open Letter and signatories:
Dear Mr. Cameron,
As we approach 2015, the 800th anniversary of the signing of Magna Carta, which introduced habeas corpus to the world, we call on you to urgently address the case of Shaker Aamer, a legal British resident with a British wife and four British children. He continues to be imprisoned without charge or trial in the US prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in violation of the right not to be arbitrarily imprisoned which was enshrined in the Magna Carta.
Mr. Aamer’s ongoing imprisonment is all the more shocking because he has been approved for release by the United States on two occasions – by a military review board under President Bush in 2007, and by a high-level, inter-agency task force under President Obama in 2009. The British Government has been requesting his return since 2007, and we received assurances from you in June 2013 that you had raised his case with President Obama.
In a letter to Mr. Aamer’s daughter, Johina, last June, you wrote, “Despite efforts to secure his release, it remains the case that he has been cleared for transfer but not for release.” You added, “It also remains the case that any decision regarding your father’s release remains ultimately in the hands of the US Government.”
Does your comment to Mr. Aamer’s daughter about being cleared for transfer refer to rumours that the United States Government would like to send Mr. Aamer back to Saudi Arabia, the country of his birth? This would, no doubt, be convenient for the United States as from there Mr Aamer would be unable to talk about the torture and abuse he has witnessed and personally experienced during his long imprisonment.
However, 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. We can find no reason why, given the special relationship between our two countries, you cannot call President Obama and tell him that Mr. Aamer must be returned to the UK as swiftly as possible.
We urge you to pick up the phone to President Obama, and to bring Shaker Aamer home.
Joanne MacInnes, Andy Worthington and Joy Hurcombe of the We Stand With Shaker campaign; Clive Stafford Smith, director of the human rights charity Reprieve; actress Juliet Stevenson; actor Mark Rylance; comedian Frankie Boyle; comedian Jeremy Hardy; actress Harriet Walter; journalist Jemima Khan; actor Bill Paterson; comedian Sara Pascoe; actress and broadcaster Janet Ellis; theatre director Nicholas Kent; pop singer Sophie Ellis-Bextor; journalist and author Peter Oborne; journalist and author Nick Davies; journalist and broadcaster John Pilger; Conservative MP David Davis (Haltemprice and Howden); Conservative MP Sir John Randall (Uxbridge and South Ruislip); Green MP Caroline Lucas (Brighton Pavilion); Labour MP John McDonnell (Hayes and Harlington); Labour MP Andy Slaughter (Hammersmith); Respect MP George Galloway (Bradford West); Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn (Islington North) SDLP MP Mark Durkan (Foyle); Liberal Democrat MP Norman Baker (Lewes); Liberal Democrat MP John Leech (Manchester Withington); Green MEP Jean Lambert (London); Green peer Baroness Jenny Jones; Labour peer Baroness Helena Kennedy QC; Shami Chakrabarti, director of the human rights group Liberty; Denis Halliday, former assistant secretary-general of the United Nations; Anna Perera, Guantanamo Boy author; writer Lisa Appignanesi; poet and author Benjamin Zephaniah; imam Shaykh Suliman Ghani, of Tooting Islamic Centre, South London; Stop The War Coalition co-founder John Rees; human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell; Moazzam Begg, of the Cage campaign group; neurologist Dr David Nicholl; novelist and playwright Gillian Slovo; Clare Solomon, of the People’s Assembly Against Austerity group.