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Amnesty International calls for action on Shaker Aamer’s case


British resident Aamer is in detention at Guantánamo Bay for nearly nine years

12 January 2011: Amnesty International has issued a fresh call for action by the US authorities on the case of British resident Shaker Aamer, detained at Guantánamo Bay for nearly nine years.
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In the letter to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen has asserted there is “mounting concern” in Britain at the failure of the US authorities to resolve the case after almost nine years.

Allen has called for “reassurance that the case will now be resolved quickly” and the US authorities have been urged to agree a timetable for Aamer to be either allowed a fair trial or for him to be released and returned to his family in the UK.

Shaker Aamer, also known as Shaker Abdur-Raheem Aamer, is a Saudi Arabian citizen and the last British resident currently held in the Guantanamo Bay detention camps, in Cuba where he is detained since February 2002, despite never being charged with any offence.

Aamer moved to the United Kingdom in 1996. He married a British woman. They have four young children. Aamer is a British resident and was applying for citizenship.

Supporters of Aamer contend the UK should intervene in his detention because he moved to the United Kingdom in 1996, married a British woman, fathered four young children and was in the process of applying for British citizenship.

At the outbreak of the Invasion of Afghanistan, Aamer was working for a Saudi charity in Afghanistan.

Aamer says that interrogators in Afghanistan, who represented themselves as MI5 officers, told him he had two choices: agree to spy on suspected jihadists in the United Kingdom; or remain in US custody.

The letter makes it clear Foreign Secretary William Hague and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg have both raised Aamer’s plight directly with Ms Clinton.

The letter comes at a time when Amnesty activists have stepped up their campaign for Aamer, including with online lobbying of Hillary Clinton.

In the US, Amnesty supporters are pressing President Obama, US Attorney General Eric Holder and US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates about the case, and activists are staging a rally in Washington to mark the “anniversary”.

Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen said: “We’ve reached the miserable milestone of nine years of Guantánamo Bay’s lawlessness.
 
“Ever since the shocking 11 September attacks Amnesty has said that where the authorities suspect someone of terrorism then they should be charged and given a fair hearing – instead we’ve had Guantánamo, a total travesty of justice.

“Enough is enough. It’s time for this travesty of justice to end. President Obama has got to deliver on his promise to close Guantánamo and all the detainees – including Shaker Aamer – have got to be either given proper trials or safely released.”

Aamer’s supporters and the London Guantánamo Campaign organisers have already asked the government to step up its efforts in the matter.

The organisers say: `We call on the British government to play its part in the closure of Guantánamo Bay by stepping up its efforts at the highest levels to ensure the return of British resident Shaker Aamer to the UK.

`The UK sought his release in August 2007 along with that of four other men who have since returned. Aamer has a British family, including a seven year old son he has never met. He has never been charged. The UK must also seek the release of Algerian asylum seeker Ahmed Belbacha, who lived in Bournemouth, on humanitarian grounds”.

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