Wonderful News! Shaker Aamer to be Released from Guantánamo – Finally!

25.9.15

Shaker Aamer, photographed at Guantanamo in 2012.I’m delighted to receive the news that Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in the US prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba is to be released, although I must admit I’m slightly numb too. I’ve been hoping for this day — and working towards making it happen — for so long that it’s difficult to believe that it’s true.

But it is true. This afternoon, a British government spokesperson announced that the US government has notified them of the intention to release Mr. Aamer back to his family in the UK, and stated that the US government “has notified Congress of this decision and once that notice period has been concluded, Mr. Aamer will be returned to the UK.”

Under US law, the defence secretary, Ashton Carter, must sign off on any prisoner releases, certifying that all steps have been taken to ensure that it is safe to do so, and Congress then receives 30 days’ notice. As a result, Shaker may not be home until late October, but the announcement of his impending release is a clear cause for celebration.

Responding to the news, I said in a press release, as the co-director of We Stand With Shaker, established ten months ago to call for Shaker’s release via a campaign to get celebrities and MPs to stand with a giant inflatable figure of Shaker that was very well-received:

We are delighted to hear of Shaker Aamer’s imminent release, and would like to thank everyone who has worked so hard over the years to secure his release — his lawyers, the many MPs who took up his cause, the journalists who refused to look the other way, the many celebrities who have supported the We Stand With Shaker campaign over the last year and the many members of the public who have campaigned tirelessly to make sure he was not forgotten.

I also said:

We are delighted to have played our part in securing Shaker’s release. Thanks to all the MPs and celebrities who have stood with our giant inflatable figure of Shaker, and to all the members of the public, in the UK, the US and around the world, who have shown solidarity with Shaker’s plight.

My colleague Joanne MacInnes, the co-director of We Stand With Shaker, said:

This is fantastic news. Year after year Shaker’s family have awaited his return, and been disappointed time and again. After so long, I’m delighted that his torture and long ordeal is nearly over, and he’ll be in the arms of his family very soon.

Note: If you’d like to make a small gesture in support of Shaker, please buy ‘Song for Shaker Aamer’, the song I wrote for Shaker and played with my band The Four Fathers, which I made available as a download just days before the announcement of Shaker’s imminent release. It costs just 80p ($1.25), but you can pay more if you want. I’m donating 25% of the money received to Shaker’s family. (You can also buy our album ‘Love and War’ here). And also check out the campaign video if you haven’t seen it.

Please also see below for RT’s coverage, on YouTube, featuring the chorus of ‘Song for Shaker’ and a montage of images of supporters standing with the giant inflatable figure of Shaker. It’s a rejigged version of my interview with RT on September 21:

Andy Worthington is a freelance investigative journalist, activist, author, photographer, film-maker and singer-songwriter (the lead singer and main songwriter for the London-based band The Four Fathers, whose debut album, ‘Love and War,’ is available for download or on CD via Bandcamp — also see here). He is the co-founder of the Close Guantánamo campaign, the co-director of We Stand With Shaker, calling for the immediate release from Guantánamo of Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in the prison, and the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by the University of Chicago Press in the US, and available from Amazon, including a Kindle edition — click on the following for the US and the UK) and of two other books: Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion and The Battle of the Beanfield. He is also the co-director (with Polly Nash) of the documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (available on DVD here — or here for the US).

To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to Andy’s RSS feed — and he can also be found on Facebook (and here), Twitter, Flickr and YouTube. Also see the six-part definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, and The Complete Guantánamo Files, an ongoing, 70-part, million-word series drawing on files released by WikiLeaks in April 2011. Also see the definitive Guantánamo habeas list, the full military commissions list, and the chronological list of all Andy’s articles.

Please also consider joining the Close Guantánamo campaign, and, if you appreciate Andy’s work, feel free to make a donation.

194 Responses

  1. Andy Worthington says...

    When I posted this on Facebook, I wrote:

    YES! Here’s my response to the news that the US has confirmed to the UK government that Shaker Aamer will soon be released from ‪Guantanamo‬ and returned to his family in the UK. I can’t believe how many years I’ve been campaigning for his release! Thanks to everyone who has supported the campaigns to free him – We Stand With Shaker and the Save Shaker Aamer Campaign – and, of course, the Shaker Aamer Parliamentary Group. And thanks to everyone – everyone – who has given time over the years to try and bring this long-standing injustice to an end. Now to get Guantanamo closed once and for all!

  2. Martin says...

    Hell yeah! Great news, Mr. Worthington. I’m also glad that the Mauritanian Aziz will also be freed. This is an early Christmas present for their families.

  3. Martin says...

    Muhammed Abd Al Rahman Awn Al-Shamrani has also been approved for release. He realized that talking to the parole board was necessary to gain freedom. Wonder if Tariq Sawah and Fawaz Kandari are the other prisoners to be released next month.

  4. S A Kelly says...

    Thank the lord. Free at last as MLK said. I cannot imagine the terror that this man has suffered. Thank you for keeping this in the public eye.

  5. Anna says...

    What a wonderful day :-). I share your numbness as I am sure thousands do today, not to mention the tears I’m sure we all shed.
    This will arguably be the toughest 30 days for Shaker and his family, but more than ever we will all be with them in thought, and will pray that he will be treated better during this last period there.
    Not that I expect them to suddenly show more humanity, but because they will want to patch Shaker up as much as is possible in such a short time, before he is seen by the world.

    So we’ll start counting ‘the nights we still have to sleep before his release’ and then we will have to concentrate on his remaining brothers, much less known and therefore even more in need of our support. Judging by the hypocritical speeches about human right violations uttered in Washington with all the high profile visitors there, much battle will still be needed.

  6. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Martin. Great news indeed. I’m not sure of the timing as to whether there’s been time for the notification to take place for Fayiz al-Kandari since he was approved for release, but very possibly. I’m not sure about Tariq al-Sawah, as I don’t know if he can be safely returned to Egypt, or if a third country must be found for him.

  7. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, S A. Good to hear from you on this happy day.

  8. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Anna. So lovely to hear from you. Perhaps you will think a UK visit is in order when he’s released?
    I do hope they treat him well in these last weeks of his imprisonment, and that they don’t truss him up for his flight to the UK. It’d be nice if Cameron sent a jet for him like the Saudis and Kuwaitis do …
    People are asking what I’ll do now, but as you know this isn’t just about Shaker. When he’s released there will still be 113 men held, and as you say, “we will have to concentrate on his remaining brothers, much less known and therefore even more in need of our support.”

  9. Anna says...

    Hi Andy,

    you bet, I have already considered a hop to the UK, but that’ll have to wait quite a while as I’m sure he’ll need considerable time to even be able to face old friends, let alone ‘third parties’. But when he’ll be ready, so will I, were it only to see him and Moazzam reunited after all those years!
    Until then, I’ll be concentrating on the Welcome note to send him by the time he’ll arrive :-).

  10. Andy Worthington says...

    Well, you are welcome any time, Anna!

  11. Andy Worthington says...

    On Facebook, Harry Fear wrote:

    Congratulations :-)

  12. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Harry. Much appreciated.

  13. Andy Worthington says...

    David V. Barrett wrote:

    After a l-o-n-g campaign by my friend Andy Worthington, Shaker Aamer is at last to be released.
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-34363033

  14. Andy Worthington says...

    Idrees Amin Shah wrote:

    andy worthington…congratulations….turbulent time he has been thru..and this guy fought …almost selflessly…
    ..no human can reward him..

  15. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, David – and Idrees, for the kind and supportive words.

  16. Andy Worthington says...

    John Rees wrote:

    Brilliant and long overdue news. Well done Joanne MacInnes, Andy Worthington and everyone who campaigned so hard for his release…

  17. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, John, for your support.

  18. Andy Worthington says...

    Carol Anne Grayson wrote:

    PRAYERS ANSWERED… Alhamdulillah …
    After years of campaigning Shaker Aamer is coming home… I heard the news from a former GITMO guard who has spoken out many times since now confirmed by Brit govt, he will finally meet his youngest son that he has never seen, tears of joy at the news
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/british-resident-held-at-guantanamo-bay-to-be-sent-to-the-united-kingdom/2015/09/25/716dced2-62ea-11e5-b38e-06883aacba64_story.html

  19. Andy Worthington says...

    A happy day, Carol!

  20. Andy Worthington says...

    Sarah Kay wrote:

    Shaker Aamer, 13 years in Guantanamo, never charged with a crime, cleared for release in 2007, will be finally sent home to the UK. I barely have words – just awaiting a date – we have worked tirelessly for this for so long. Shaker will be reunited with his wife and 4 kids, the youngest of which he’s never met. I can’t thank Andy enough for the breathless, powerful, and endless campaigning he’s done for the man. I can’t wait to see him go home.

  21. Andy Worthington says...

    Thank you for the beautiful words, Sarah. From the heart.

  22. Andy Worthington says...

    Marisa Egerstrom wrote:

    OMGOMGOMGOMG

  23. Andy Worthington says...

    OMG indeed, Marisa. We got there eventually! Hope there’s a small contingent celebrating in Boston!

  24. Andy Worthington says...

    Sue Glenton wrote:

    Just WOW! Can’t believe this, all your efforts come to fruition Andy.

  25. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Sue. Wonderful news!

  26. Andy Worthington says...

    Stuart Lovett wrote:

    Well done Andy. You are one of the bricks in the foundation of freedom.

  27. Andy Worthington says...

    Well, thank you, Stuart. And how lovely to hear from you!

  28. Andy Worthington says...

    Melani Finn wrote:

    Amazing. Andy your dedication has been so commendable. Heard John McDonnell on R4 just now, and dare to hope for a better world.

  29. Andy Worthington says...

    Excellent, Melani. John McDonnell’s support has been inspiring – for so many years. His promotion will be a big loss to backbench activism, and replacements need to be found for him and Jeremy Corbyn. Thanks also to Andrew Mitchell, David Davis, Andy Slaughter, Caroline Lucas and many other MPs for their support.

  30. Andy Worthington says...

    Todd Pierce wrote:

    Congratulations Andy!!! Your efforts kept Shaker in the public eye so the U.S. government couldn’t bury him forever in military imprisonment.

  31. Andy Worthington says...

    Thank you, Todd. That really means a lot to me!

  32. Andy Worthington says...

    Gary Spedding wrote:

    Have been called & emailed by a number of MPs regarding the release of Shaker Aamer. Each of them have wanted to relay thanks to myself, Sarah Kay & Andy Worthington for the constant efforts made on Shaker’s behalf and to all the many other activists, organisations and legal experts who have pushed & pushed to realise this goal.
    Shaker Aamer has been imprisoned for 13 years without being charged with a crime. He has been cleared for release since 2007 and yet he wasn’t released.
    It took several campaigns & a huge push to make our own government challenge the US government on this issue. We finally have a positive result.
    Nothing will ever likely bring true justice for Shaker Aamer, who has endured years of brutalisation, torture and inhumane treatment at the hands of the US government, officers in Guantanamo and intelligence agencies. But at least he can now go home to his family. At least he has them and now his freedom. I can’t wait to see Shaker walk into the UK as a free man!
    I wish to personally thank Mark Durkan MP for taking my letters & emails on Shaker Aamer so seriously, and for his taking action to write to the foreign office on a number of occasions on Shaker’s behalf. I should also thank Grahame Morris & other Labour MPs for their efforts in pushing Shaker’s case so strongly in parliament and making the UK government take action.
    I’m extremely glad that all the hard work, effort and lobbying has finally succeeded. It’s not often that we achieve a result which we have sought, so I’m absolutely thrilled.

  33. Andy Worthington says...

    Sarah Kay wrote:

    Thank you! And thanks to those with the strength to honor human rights in the course of their political commitment

  34. Andy Worthington says...

    A great day for activists, Gary, as well as – belatedly – for justice!

  35. Andy Worthington says...

    Mahfuja Bint Ammu wrote:

    I haven’t been able to gather my thoughts since hearing about the beautiful news of our brother Shaker Aamer being released.
    Thank you to everyone who have worked so tirelessly for his release. To Save Shaker Aamer Campaign, Save Shaker, We Stand With Shaker, Wandsworth STW, Reprieve, CAGE and all those individual souls. All the hard work that went into petitioning which fell on deaf ears. Only for 2 people to have an idea then act on this and bring about a revolutionary change in Shaker’s campaign. Andy Worthington & Joanne MacInnes wAllahi I cannot tell you how hard they have worked. 2 names which you probably have not heard off yet their work for our brother is beyond words, literally night and day they have been working behind the scenes. Getting Shaker back into the limelight, getting the media to speak about him again, getting known figures to stand with Shaker and most importantly rattling the US. may Allah bless them both with Imaan and goodness in both worlds.
    jazakumAllahu khairan, everyone who made du’aa, everyone who fought on his behalf. There are countless number of people who have been involved in this long battle, you all know who you are and most importantly your deeds are with Allah, He knows and may Allah reward you with blessings beyond what you can imagine. Two more people who I request to keep in your duaa is Sheikh Suliman Gani, who even remembered him during Hajj and has constantly been a representative for the Muslim community and Waris Ali who has been a consistent and dedicated campaigner. May your deed testify for you on yawm ul Qiyamah.
    Allahu akbar, this feeling of joy is unexplainable, I can only imagine what his beautful children and wife are feeling at this moment.
    Not long my brother, you’re coming home inshaAllah :-)
    This is only a part of the victory. We will of course continue fighting for the closure of Guantanamo bay and all our aseerun who have been unjustly imprisoned. Keep them in your du’aa.

  36. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Mahfuja, for you tireless activism. I can’t even remember now: did we first meet through the letter-writing campaign many years ago?

  37. Andy Worthington says...

    Joanne MacInnes wrote:

    Ahh thats so wonderful and eloquent Mahfuja Bint Ammu and such nice words about Andy and I. Its really nice to be thanked. I have to say im feeling pretty numb if im honest. Not stopped with press and phone calls since i had the first notification at 3. But Im a newbie and you and Waris Ali have done the long haul and been consistent selfless campaigners. Now we just have to ensure that he gets a smooth ride when he gets home. Thats our next challenge. We have 30 days to put positive press out there about who Shaker really is, so lets tweet all try and get that message out.

  38. Andy Worthington says...

    Mahfuja Bint Ammu wrote:

    Definitely agree. Will get on to this :-)

  39. Andy Worthington says...

    Waris Ali wrote:

    Definitely Jo, already on it! :-) Thank God we have the likes of you, Andy and Moazzam to talk to the media regularly, you’re all great in your own right and bring something different.

  40. Andy Worthington says...

    Aneta Jay wrote:

    After long and endless campaigning in Europe and US by amazing Andy Worthington, Shaker Aamer, who has been subjected to almost 14 years without charge or trial in Guantanamo, spending a huge amount of his time in solitary confinement will be finally sent home to the UK. Congratulations Andy for your efforts to keep the case of Shaker Aamer in public for so many years! You made it!

  41. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Aneta, for the lovely and supportive words. I’m just one of many who have worked tirelessly to secure Shaker’s release, although I see that I’ve written 255 articles about him over the years! http://www.andyworthington.co.uk/category/shaker-aamer/

  42. Andy Worthington says...

    George Kenneth Berger wrote:

    Great work, Andy.

  43. Andy Worthington says...

    Dejanka Bryant wrote:

    I can’t believe it!!! Finally! Thank you Andy million times! :-)

  44. Andy Worthington says...

    Cathy Teesdale wrote:

    I saw, brilliant news Andy. Very well done you & all who worked so hard to get him free. So happy for him & his family. Finally!!

  45. Andy Worthington says...

    Mahfuja Bint Ammu wrote:

    :-) thank YOU Andy :-)

  46. Andy Worthington says...

    Joyce McCloy wrote:

    thank you Andy – you kept this story in the spotlight.

  47. Andy Worthington says...

    Colin Bodiam wrote:

    He should sue the USA for having thirteen years taken away.

  48. Andy Worthington says...

    Sarah Kay wrote:

    Thank you, Andy. I look forward to seeing you soon when Shaker finally goes home.

  49. Andy Worthington says...

    Saleyha Ahsan wrote:

    Alhumdullillah

  50. Andy Worthington says...

    Monique D’hoohge wrote:

    been doing the inner chachacha ever since i heard it a few hrs ago

  51. Andy Worthington says...

    Dominik Tea Drinker Spitzer wrote:

    I have nothing but love and admiration for your part in bringing this day about.
    Sending hugs.

  52. Andy Worthington says...

    Usman Khan wrote:

    Great work Andy

    Alhamdulillah

  53. Andy Worthington says...

    Dez Mundie wrote:

    Great news Andy, and bravo for all your dedicated work exposing this travesty of justice!

  54. Andy Worthington says...

    MJ Tallon wrote:

    I’m so glad, and so grateful for all the work you’ve done & everyone has been doing to see this announcement finally come.

  55. Andy Worthington says...

    Michael Bentley wrote:

    I’m finding it hard to believe too, Andy. But if true, it’s overwhelming news and so much of it is due to you and your colleagues. Be counting the days now!

  56. Andy Worthington says...

    Ruth Gilburt wrote:

    Can’t quite believe it, but whooped when I read the news earlier today! Good to share this with you tonight, after your 13 years of campaigning, Andy x

  57. Andy Worthington says...

    Shamirul Alam wrote:

    We can’t thank you enough

    On behalf of the muslim community

  58. Andy Worthington says...

    David Knopfler wrote:

    We’ve had so many false starts it’s not going to be easy to believe until his plane touches down

  59. Andy Worthington says...

    Thank you, George, Dejanka, Cathy, Mahfuja, Joyce, Colin, Sarah, Saleyha, Monique, Dominik, Usman, Dez, MJ, Michael, Ruth, Shamirul and David. So great to be celebrating with you. So many of you, I know, have been with me for many years on this long journey to secure Shaker’s release.
    While we prepare for it, I ask all of you to also keep in mind the 113 other men still held at Guantanamo – 52 approved for release like Shaker, but still held, just ten facing trials, and 51 others awaiting reviews to establish whether they too can be approved for release, five years since they were assessed by President Obama’s high-level Guantanamo Review Task Force to be “too dangerous to release.” This was in spite of the fact that the task force also acknowledged that there was insufficient evidence to put them on trial. That’s not evidence, of course, but unreliable statements made by prisoners subjected to torture, abuse or bribery, and I’ll be spending time in the coming months working out how to prove that this supposed evidence is worthless, and, essentially, that there is no reason to continue to hold prisoners unless they can be put on trial.

  60. Andy Worthington says...

    When Diana Murtaugh Coleman shared this, she wrote:

    Good news from Andy Worthington…

  61. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks for sharing, Diana – and for all your support over the years!

  62. Andy Worthington says...

    When I updated the We Stand With Shaker website, I wrote:

    Please visit the We Stand With Shaker website for the great news about Shaker Aamer’s imminent release from ‪Guantanamo‬, our thoughts, and our thanks to everyone who has worked to get him freed. As I state: “We are delighted to hear of Shaker Aamer’s imminent release, and would like to thank everyone who has worked so hard over the years to secure his release — his lawyers, the many MPs who took up his cause, the journalists who refused to look the other way, the many celebrities who have supported the We Stand With Shaker campaign over the last year and the many members of the public who have campaigned tirelessly to make sure he was not forgotten.”

  63. Andy Worthington says...

    Carol Anne Grayson wrote:

    An amazing day … thanks to all who worked so hard for his release… I posted my Eid prayers on FB just 24 hours ago for Shaker, calling for all to remember him … and then this news today… Allahu Akbar

  64. Andy Worthington says...

    Elizabeth Ferrari wrote:

    Amazing timing. So happy for you all. ef

  65. Andy Worthington says...

    Val Stevenson wrote:

    Nice, Andy!!!!!!

  66. Andy Worthington says...

    Paul Clark wrote:

    Can you imagine what would happen if we held an American citizen, found him guilty of no crime TWICE and still held him for 14 years?

  67. Andy Worthington says...

    John Hurson wrote:

    Fantastic news Andy. Just like the Guildford 4 and the Birmingham 6.

  68. Andy Worthington says...

    Sarah Prosser wrote:

    Andy: huge respect to you. Great, and about time…

  69. Andy Worthington says...

    Peter B. Collins wrote:

    Andy, hearty congrats to you and all the others who have campaigned for Shaker’s release…you are imaginative, resourceful and persistent, and it’s paid off!

  70. Andy Worthington says...

    David Gould wrtote:

    I just pray it happens this time. An innocent man being released should not be headline news but after 14 years the USA should hang its head in shame.

  71. Andy Worthington says...

    Peter B. Collins wrote:

    David Gould, on behalf of thinking Americans, we feel deep shame that this continues in our names. Then there’s the majority of Americans who have no shame, and are proud of it.

  72. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Carol, Elizabeth, Val, Paul, John, Sarah, Peter B. and David. What a day this has been! It’s late now. After a burst of activity when I finally heard the news (about an hour and a half late because I was out on my bike without a phone, as usual), I wrote a press release, wrote an article for my site, updated the We Stand With Shaker website, spoke to my colleague Joanne MacInnes on the phone, did a radio interview with Scott Horton and then went out for the evening to an exhibition – a date planned long in advance. Now to plan for Shaker’s return!

  73. Andy Worthington says...

    Waris Ali wrote:

    Here goes, my thoughts on the news that shaker is to be freed and returned to the UK. He will be transferred in 30 days :-)

    Firstly, thank you to every single one of you, who have worked so tirelessly for his release and contributed to the campaign over the years, so many people, from different ages and backgrounds, coming together to fight this terrible injustice, especially when it wasn’t popular to do so, in the early days. To Ray Silk and Joy Hurcombe of the Save Shaker Aamer Campaign, We Stand With Shaker, Wandsworth STW, Reprieve, Cageprisoners. To every single one of you who collected signatures for Save Shaker, went door to door, through events, mosques, churches, through university societies, to get the required 100,000 signatures that we needed and which we got back in 2013. (See http://www.freeshaker.com) To all who joined in with our twitter storms, when there was little media attention or political support, to get more signatures, raise awareness, get more people involved and co ordinate our actions across the country,

    To all who lobbied when asked, whether it was for the Westminster Hall Debate in 2013. Or the Full parliamentary debate earlier this year. To all who have kept the pressure up, through lobbying, writing, making videos, doing stunts, sharing, talking about Shaker’s plight and really helping to keep it in the Media limelight.

    A special mention to the legends that are Mahfuja Bint Ammu and Maryam Hassan. They were there the ones who without fail, continued to give, partake in so many different ways over the years, i’ve had the pleasure of working with them for years. They will forever have my respect :-)

    To those who worked with MPs and celebrities, using the “inflatable Shaker” running around, following up, working with the media and making it all happen to help make the campaign go international. Thereby keep it high profile and high up on the political agenda. For that, let me give a special mention to Joanne MacInnes and Andy Worthington of We Stand With Shaker

    There campaign was officially launched last November and we supported them through our social media. They brought something new and very different to the campaign and took it to the next level and managed to sustain that momentum and pressure, for all of this time alhamdulillah. Something that many of you have seen this past year. They have been quite brilliant and their dogged determination and efforts has been very impressive to see and hear about. Combined with everyone’s effort, the different groups and organizations, we have achieved this result alhamdulillah, What more can i say except, i hope people and the media give shaker the space and time that he will undoubtedly need when he returns.

    ~ Waris Ali, Co Admin of Save Shaker

  74. Andy Worthington says...

    Thank you, Waris, for your wonderful analysis, and for all your hard work over the years, my friend.

  75. Andy Worthington says...

    Neill Le Roux wrote:

    Fantastic News!
    US President Barack Obama has agreed to send the last remaining British resident held at Guantanamo Bay back to the United Kingdom. Shaker Aamer has been held at the US military base in Cuba for 13 years.
    Thank you Andy Worthington for campaigning so courageously!

  76. Andy Worthington says...

    Thank you, Neill, for the supportive words. Great to hear from you.

  77. Andy Worthington says...

    Sara SN wrote:

    Many many congratulations, Andy, for this amazing news, and thank you from the bottom of my heart for tirelessly campaigning for Shaker Aamer and others, and Guantanamo’s closure. What an incredible day!

  78. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Sara. Great to hear from you. An incredible day indeed. Now we await his return – and work to keep the other prisoners in the public eye!

  79. Andy Worthington says...

    Malak Saib wrote:

    Good work Andy

  80. Andy Worthington says...

    Frazer Mckenzie wrote:

    Back within a month !! :-)
    Well Done Andy Worthington Wish him the safest of return and hope he can get some justice finally…Fingers crossed hope to see him FREE asap :-)
    I wish you both the best of luck.

  81. Andy Worthington says...

    Anna Giddings wrote:

    I’m so happy for Shaker and for you Andy. You’ve worked so hard for this. I’m thrilled

  82. Andy Worthington says...

    Ummi Maira wrote:

    I often see ur posts but dont always comment but I salute ur courage and dunno where u get the strength to carry on. May Allah bless u with his choicest blessings for ur efforts Andy Worthington

  83. Andy Worthington says...

    Gloria Colon wrote:

    About f*cking time

  84. Andy Worthington says...

    Aaf Post wrote:

    Fantastic!! Congratulations to you all!!

  85. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Malak, Frazer, Anna, Ummi, Gloria and Aaf. Belatedly – oh so belatedly – a great day for justice. Thanks for your support. Now we must work to free everyone else from that hellhole who isn’t going to be charged and put on trial – which appears to be all but 10 of the 113 other men still held.

  86. Andy Worthington says...

  87. Andy Worthington says...

    Michael Dean wrote:

    Fantastic News!

  88. Andy Worthington says...

    David Harrold wrote:

    And thank you, Andy!

  89. Andy Worthington says...

    Natalya Wolf wrote:

    Finally! YES & thanks for all you do Andy !

  90. Andy Worthington says...

    Stephanie Hiscox wrote:

    how wondeful for his family – sending love to them x

  91. Andy Worthington says...

    Len Lyle wrote:

    You’re a good man Andy :-)

  92. Andy Worthington says...

    Zareena Bhana wrote:

    Bless you and thank you Andy!

  93. Andy Worthington says...

    Sahida Uddin wrote:

    He should never have been there in the first place but thanks to all of you, he is coming home and his memory and story were kept alive in the public consciousness. Well done to you all and thank you.

  94. Andy Worthington says...

    Sven Wraight wrote:

    Now the process of healing can begin.

  95. Andy Worthington says...

    Emma Louise wrote:

    Al-Hamdulillāh ♡♡ Allāh Hu Akbar ♡♡ May Allāh SWT always keep him protected. Aameen

  96. Andy Worthington says...

    David Gourlay wrote:

    Great news and well done for all the campaigning – it makes a difference!

  97. Andy Worthington says...

    Harriet Marrinan wrote:

    I can’t quite believe it until I see it. Praying this promise is upheld.

  98. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Peter B., Michael, David, Natalya, Stephanie, Len, Zareena, Sahida, Sven, Emma, David and Harriet. Great to hear from you all. It’s difficult to believe after so long hitting a brick wall. It shows what persistent campaigning can do, and how important everyone’s contributions are! Now to get the 52 other prisoners approved for release but still held out of that hellhole!

  99. Andy Worthington says...

    Julia Igaz wrote:

    Just got in :-)
    Emotional overdrive

  100. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Julia. Great to hear from you.

  101. Andy Worthington says...

    Julia Igaz wrote:

    :-) massive big hugs to both you and Jo, and of course everyone else x x

  102. Thomas says...

    What if instead of putting him on a plane to the UK, he ends up on a plane to Saudi Arabia instead?

  103. P4peace says...

    Absolutely fantastic!
    What a happy day Mashallah
    Thank you dear Andy for every being a hero.
    God bless you all!

  104. Shaker Aamer to be released, campaigners demand accountability for his treatment during detention | Carol Anne Grayson (Radical Sister) blog says...

  105. Andy Worthington says...

    That’s a terrible thought, Thomas, but honestly it’s not going to happen. He’s coming home to his family.

  106. Andy Worthington says...

    Thank you, P4peace, for the wonderful supportive words.

  107. Andy Worthington says...

    Ol Si wrote:

    Thank you, Andy: you lead an inspiring campaign.

  108. Andy Worthington says...

    William Addictedtotango wrote:

    What did America gain from keeping a man in jail for 14 years with no charge or trial ? Nothing but contempt from the rest of the world.

  109. Andy Worthington says...

    Asma UmmTalha wrote:

    Thank you Andy!!

  110. Andy Worthington says...

    Medea Benjamin wrote:

    Yes, thank you Andy, great news

  111. Andy Worthington says...

    Syed Shah wrote:

    USA government is an evil institution, worse then Nazi’s

  112. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Ol Si, William, Asma, Medea and Syed. Great to hear from you all. And William, that contempt you speak of hasn’t gone away. There are 113 other men still held at Guantanamo. Only ten are facing trials. 52 others have been approved for release, like Shaker, most for many years, and the 51 others are regarded as “too dangerous to release,” even though the US also acknowledges that it has insufficient evidence to put them on trial; in other words, it doesn’t actually have any evidence against them.

  113. Andy Worthington says...

    Melissa J Roberts wrote:

    I haven`t read the story as to how Shaker came to be imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay . One hears about people being detained there for years without trials which is in itself, inhuman. Unsure too how The Cubans (have been there twice, years ago) who are fabulous people, have had to allow this US base?

  114. Andy Worthington says...

    Hi Melissa,
    He was seized in Afghanistan where he had travelled to provide humanitarian aid to the Afghan people, and ended up at Guantanamo like hundreds of other innocent people, held without due process. As for Cuba, they are stuck with a lease on Guantanamo that can only be ended if both parties agree to it.

  115. Andy Worthington says...

    Kent Spriggs wrote:

    Will they send the dangerous Aamer home to UK in shackles as they have sent so many?

  116. Andy Worthington says...

    Carol Anne Grayson wrote:

    Thought you would be crazy busy lol Moazzam too. Thats the thing with campaigning you get on with things for months on end, then something breaks and everyone needs your attention at the same time… enjoy. My first thought was Johina i was so excited just had to tweet her, she still cant believe it will happen, finally she will get to see dad …

  117. Andy Worthington says...

    Marion Heads wrote:

    The best news I have had in months Andy you have tirelessly worked towards this day – your solidarity, humanity, compassion and support are a lesson to us all

  118. Andy Worthington says...

    Muhammad Asif wrote:

    Andy Worthington. Congratulations!

  119. Andy Worthington says...

    Paula Simpson wrote:

    Great work by Andy and all the campaigners. Well done.

  120. Andy Worthington says...

    Rachel Taylor-Beales wrote:

    Wow just seen this, What wonderful news – you’ve done amazing campaigning and hard work Andy!!

  121. Andy Worthington says...

    Kent Spriggs wrote:

    I would be remiss if I did not congratulate you Andy now that I have had my snarky comment about the Empire.

  122. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Kent, Carol, Marion, Muhammad, Paula and Rachel. Great to hear from you all. Unfortunately, Kent, your snarky comment is probably true. When Younous Chekkouri was repatriated to Morocco last week he was chained up just like when he arrived at Guantanamo over 13 years before. A last twist of the knife …

  123. Andy Worthington says...

    Stuart Lovett wrote:

    Although we haven’t seen each other for yonks, I have been very aware of your recent activities. Not only do I admire what you ended up being in society; but I see you have a band, love to have a jam with you at some time: I could bring my guitar and throat. I have been bold and attached a song of mine you my like. It’s recorded on 8 track so not studio quality.
    Personally I feel spiritually lifted by the release of Shaker: God only know what he feels……. Once again well done!

  124. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks for the kind words, Stuart. So where’s this attachment of yours then? Can’t see anything here. Can you send me an email?

  125. Andy Worthington says...

    David Gould wrote:

    Why do they say it might take a month to ‘process ‘ his release? The man is innocent…what is there to process?

  126. Andy Worthington says...

    Carol Anne Grayson wrote:

    Agreed, we want him put on a plane now…

  127. Andy Worthington says...

    When the administration wants to release a prisoner, David and Carol, the defense secretary has to sign a certification that they’ve taken steps to mitigate any risk the prisoner might pose on their release, and then give Congress 30 days’ notice. It’s the law (as passed by Republicans over the last few years). President Obama could bypass Congress, but that would be an incentive for a fight with the Republicans that, I’m sure, he doesn’t want or need, for the sake of a few weeks’ inconvenience for Shaker. Sad but true.

  128. Andy Worthington says...

    Jenifer Fenton wrote:

    Andy – I just want to publicly say – THAT YOU ARE AWESOME!! awesome!! You’ve been giving these prisoners a voice for years – when they could not speak for themselves. Congrats on Shaker!

  129. Andy Worthington says...

    Thank you, Jen. It has been a pleasure to bounce around ideas about Guantanamo with you for the last four and a half years!

  130. Andy Worthington says...

    Jan Strain wrote:

    Congratulations to all those who worked tirelessly to gain the release of Shaker Aamer… Andy, you have worked as hard as anyone. On the day of Shaker Aamer’s return to his family, I will regain my hope for change in America…

    I will regain my respect for her once we close Guantanamo for good.

  131. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Jan. And as you know, I too will not rest until Guantanamo is closed, and all the prison stands for has been repudiated and those responsible held accountable.

  132. Andy Worthington says...

    Noshaba Saleem wrote:

    A true Gem.

  133. Andy Worthington says...

    Noshaba Saleem wrote:

    Just shows if there r ppl like Gen Musharraf who sold innocent ppl for dollers then there r Great ppl like Andy Worthington who fought for these victims of injustice for nothing in return.

  134. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Noshaba. Very good to hear from you.

  135. Andy Worthington says...

    Jan Strain wrote:

    Shaker Aamer to be returned home, at last, after 13 years, from that illegal POW camp called “Guantanamo Detention Center”.
    Thanks to all who worked so long and hard to assure Shaker’s story was heard and who would not let him be forgotten….Repreive, Close Guantanamo, We Stand With Shaker Aamer and, my dear friend, Andy Worthington..
    What great news – 13 years coming but never too late.
    From Andy Worthington – the news…
    This battle may be won but the fight to close Guantanamo still rages… On with the fight

  136. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Jan. Your support for these many years since we first “met” online has been greatly appreciated, my friend. Now to keep working to get Guantanamo closed!

  137. Andy Worthington says...

    Neil Goodwin wrote:

    Well done to everyone involved, especially you Andy. This is amazing news – the product of massive commitment and continual belief over far too many years. x

  138. Andy Worthington says...

    Thank you, Neil. Your support is very much appreciated, my friend.

  139. Andy Worthington says...

    Jamal Ajouaou wrote:

    Thank you Andy also thanks to all noble people who stand with shaker all this time in Snow, rain and sunshine , finally pay out now , Good news for SHAKER and his family , Best Eid Gift .

  140. Andy Worthington says...

    Thank you, Jamal. Great to hear from you. A happy day – and I’m glad it was a wonderful Eid gift too!

  141. Andy Worthington says...

    Ejercito Revolucionario de Cuba (FAR) wrote:

    Guantanamo should be closed and returned to Cuba!

  142. Andy Worthington says...

    Geraldine Grunow wrote:

    Thank you for all you’ve done to campaign for justice.

  143. Andy Worthington says...

    Nasra Ban wrote:

    Tears of joy..such great news

  144. Andy Worthington says...

    Beverly Hendricks wrote:

    Many thanks to you, Andy. I’m so happy for Shaker and his family.

  145. Andy Worthington says...

    Umm Ibrahim wrote:

    Great news. Alhamdulillah.

  146. Andy Worthington says...

    Jørn Kurt Simonsen wrote:

    At last…Jørn

  147. Andy Worthington says...

    Anna Fauzy-Ackroyd wrote:

    The most wonderful news. At last.

  148. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Ejercito, Geraldine, Nasra, Beverly, Umm Ibrahim, Jørn and Anna. Great to hear from you all. Such great news!

  149. Andy Worthington says...

    Marion Heads wrote:

    This was the best news I have heard in months – my heart goes out to Shaker and his family, I can only imagine how they must be feeling. 13 years of separation have left deep scars I hope that slowly they will begin to heal and the love they have for each other will bind them

  150. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Marion, for your thoughts. Very well put.

  151. Andy Worthington says...

    Nina Gora wrote:

    Absolutely fantastic news. Well done to everyone involved.

  152. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Nina. Good to hear from you.

  153. Andy Worthington says...

    Raymond McDonald wrote:

    Fantastic news, overjoyed for his family

  154. Andy Worthington says...

    Donia Isted wrote:

    AL HAMDOLILAH
    ALLAH HU AKBAR
    I MADE DUA FOR HIS AND ALL THE OTHERS TO BE FREE SHUKHR TO ALLAH THE EXCEPTER OF DUAS

  155. Andy Worthington says...

    Lottie Lancing wrote:

    Hooray! So many years of hard work by dedicated people. Well done all and bless him and his family who will need much love and support.

  156. Andy Worthington says...

    Jawed Siddique wrote:

    Alhamdulillah.

  157. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Raymond, Donia, Lottie and Jawed. Great to hear from all of you.

  158. Andy Worthington says...

    Jessy Mumpo wrote:

    Elated to hear this news here in Wales, where we’ve had a small but constant campaign for a little while. Thank you for all your years of work Andy!

  159. Andy Worthington says...

    Thank you, Jessy, for your dedicated campaigning over the last ten months!

  160. Andy Worthington says...

    Patricia Sheerin-Richman wrote:

    Double, treble Like. We have an SSAC stall tomorrow morning. Will have to change the placards….No longer “Save Shaker” but “Shaker’s Coming Home”.

  161. Andy Worthington says...

    I hope the stall went well, Patricia, and that lots of people were delighted to hear the news!

  162. Andy Worthington says...

    Carol Anne Grayson wrote:

    Here is my piece on Shaker…. Shaker Aamer to be released, campaigners demand accountability for his treatment during detention
    https://activist1.wordpress.com/2015/09/26/shaker-aamer-to-be-released-campaigners-demand-accountability-for-his-treatment-during-detention/

  163. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks for sharing, Carol!

  164. Andy Worthington says...

    Brigid Mary Oates wrote:

    Brilliant campaigners Andy Worthington Patricia Sheerin-Richman Linda Bond Sara Hussain… London guantanamo. . Thank you so much

    Brigid Mary posted a message by Ray Silk of the Save Shaker Aamer Campaign:

    A message from Ray Silk, Secretary of the Save Shaker Aamer Campaign:
    WONDERFUL AND JOYOUS NEWS: SHAKER TO BE RELEASED

    Wonderful news! media reports state that the UK Government says Shaker is to be freed back to the UK. If we can believe this to be true, the tireless work of so many campaigning organisations, groups and individuals including political leaders, lawyers, Members of Parliament, human rights and trade union activists within the UK, the US and around the world, has at last been rewarded. All who signed a petition, handed out a leaflet, stood outside Parliament, the US Embassy, Downing Street, and MI6 and campaigned for Shaker in so many imaginative other ways, for Shaker to be freed, should congratulate themselves many, many times over. Our thanks to you all. However we must remain cautious until we witness Shaker on UK soil and in the arms of his dear family.

    We must continue to call for Shaker’s immediate release from Guantanamo. Shaker’s lawyers have stated they are calling on the UK Government to demand that President Obama release Shaker so that he can return to the UK tomorrow. Shaker’s more than thirteen years incarceration in Guantanamo will go down in history as a most despicable and brutal act of injustice. We salute Shaker’s courage, and his principled stand speaking out loud from his Guantanamo cell for peace, justice and human rights for all.

  165. Andy Worthington says...

    Sara Hussain wrote:

    Ray Silk is a fountain of knowledge with a huge dollop of humility and a heart smile

  166. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Brigid Mary and Sara. Thanks also to Joy Hurcombe, the chair of the Save Shaker Aamer Campaign, for her years of work on Shaker’s behalf – and those many letters to the Guardian!

  167. Stephanie says...

    Why was he in there and what happened?

  168. Andy Worthington says...

  169. Andy Worthington says...

    Brigid Mary Oates wrote:

    Thank you you wonderful man xxx

  170. Andy Worthington says...

    Well, thank you again, Brigid Mary! I still recall the pleasure of meeting you at Menwith Hill two years ago for your (CAAB’s) big July 4th demo against US bases on UK soil.

  171. Andy Worthington says...

    Sara Hussain wrote:

    I always had a dream to see you all who have spent endless hours campaigning for justice stood on UK soil with Shaker one day… InshaAllah i still have this dream and it will be realised soon

  172. Andy Worthington says...

    That would be lovely, Sara, but who knows what Shaker will want to do when he’s back? I do look forward to the day that I can meet him, though! After all, I’ve been writing about him and campaigning for his release for nearly ten years!

  173. Andy Worthington says...

    Robert Mcleod wrote:

    Thanks Andy for all your hard work for justice, hope the US is willing to give him some sort of compensation

  174. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Robert. We’re a long way from any kind of compensation, unfortunately, as the first job of lawyers close to the government is to find ways to avoid it. Don’t acknowledge that anyone was innocent, for example, which they continue to do. Prisoners are only “approved for transfer” subject to security considerations, and there is, scrupulously, no mention of guilt or innocence.

  175. Andy Worthington says...

    Kent Spriggs wrote:

    The GTMO population identity was built on lies (e.g., on 5% were “battlefield captures”) so this is the Empire’s last gasp to stay with the narrative -“worst of the worst”; “would chew through (something) to take the plane down” – Cheney.

  176. Andy Worthington says...

    Carol Anne Grayson wrote:

    There are those that will try to put a spanner in the works to the bitter end as more of the public realize the terrible damage done at Gitmo…

  177. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Kent​ and Carol​. Yes, far too few people realize the extent to which Guantanamo was built on lies. This is what I wrote when I worked with WikiLeaks on the release of previously classified military files in 2011: http://www.andyworthington.co.uk/2011/04/25/wikileaks-reveals-secret-guantanamo-files-exposes-detention-policy-as-a-construct-of-lies/

  178. Andy Worthington says...

    Pucci Dellanno wrote:

    Amazing. Let’s just hope there will be no further delays. 13 years too late, but at long long last.

  179. Andy Worthington says...

    Neil McKenna wrote:

    I was wondering how he’d be treated by the British authorities.

  180. Andy Worthington says...

    Khan Sultan wrote:

    congratulations

  181. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Pucci, Neil and Khan. Great to hear from you all. Neil, I’m pretty sure that the British authorities will allow him to go home to his family without any problems, although he will be “monitored” in some way – but aren’t we all?!

  182. Andy Worthington says...

    James Mangan wrote:

    About bloody time too. No due process and what about the rule of law. Shameful episode in USA history

  183. Andy Worthington says...

    Yes, absolutely, James. Good to hear from you. And we must now work to get all the other men out of Guantanamo – 113 in total – unless they’re going to be charged and tried, which seems to apply to just ten of those still held. 52 men have been approved for release, like Shaker – most since 2010 – and 51 others are awaiting Periodic Review Boards to establish whether they too can be approved for release. There needs to be a push by the administration to make sure these take place much quicker than they have been to date. Since starting in November 2013, just 18 men have so far had their cases reviewed, even though it is reassuring that 13 of these 18 have been approved for release, while three decisions have yet to be taken, but at the current rate of reviews they won’t be completed until 2021, and that’s just not acceptable.

  184. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks for the wonderful response to this article!
    It’s reached 21,290 people via the Close Guantanamo Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/CloseGuantanamo
    and 10,589 people via the We Stand With Shaker Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/WeStandWithShaker

  185. Andy Worthington says...

    Pucci Dellanno wrote:

    Finally. 13 years in Guantanamo without charges.
    Quoting Andy Worthington:

    While we prepare for it, I ask all of you to also keep in mind the 113 other men still held at Guantanamo – 52 approved for release like Shaker, but still held, just ten facing trials, and 51 others awaiting reviews to establish whether they too can be approved for release, five years since they were assessed by President Obama’s high-level Guantanamo Review Task Force to be “too dangerous to release.” This was in spite of the fact that the task force also acknowledged that there was insufficient evidence to put them on trial. That’s not evidence, of course, but unreliable statements made by prisoners subjected to torture, abuse or bribery.

  186. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks for sharing, Pucci. I’m glad you recognise the importance – especially here in the UK – of not forgetting about all the other men now that Shaker is to be freed. The injustice continues – as does the need to campaign against it until the US no longer holds anyone without charge or trial – and those responsible for it, and for the whole malignant torture program, are held accountable.

  187. Andy Worthington says...

    Pucci Dellanno wrote:

    Actually Andy I knew there were still a lot of people there but I didn’t realise it was over 100. “Too dangerous to release:? After being kidnapped over a decade ago, held without trial, tortured and so on, it’s just a mockery isn’t it?

  188. Andy Worthington says...

    Yes, still 113 men, Pucci (after Shaker’s release). There are three levels of absurdity when it comes to Guantanamo:
    1) 52 men approved for release who don’t actually get released (most told they’d be going home soon back in 2010)
    2) 51 men considered “too dangerous to release” despite a lack of evidence
    3) seven men facing trials that never get to happen (essentially because the government doesn’t want any evidence of their torture to be publicly revealed)
    There are also three others: one man given a life sentence after a military commission trial in 2008, whose conviction has been overturned in the courts, but the government is appealing; and two other men who have accepted plea deals in their trials, but haven’t had their sentences confirmed.

  189. Jim says...

    This is great news, of course, but I won’t celebrate until Mr. Aamer is back in the UK; we’re familiar with the Obama administration’s and the US court system’s ability to drag things out, so even when the Attorney General does sign the necessary documents, the “notification period” may be prolonged indefinitely. And even when Mr. Aamer is free, I hope it won’t cause the few remaining people and organizations still opposing Guantanamo to lose interest in the prisoners that remain there.

  190. Andy Worthington says...

    Good to hear from you, Jim. It’s obviously understandable why any of us would be hesitant to celebrate too soon, but this time around I’m pretty sure that Obama wouldn’t have called Cameron unless it was really happening.
    As for keeping the focus on Guantanamo, it’s obviously something I’ll be doing, as will protestors in the US, but obviously it’s going to be hard to make sure that everyone in the UK who has supported Shaker will now remember the other men still held. However, I’ll be doing my best to remind them!

  191. Andy Worthington says...

    Sabyasachi Chatterjee wrote:

    Great win. And at this moment I can only vision the face of dear Andy Worthington for his relentless struggle for this. Thank you so much all those who fought for the cause. Humanity prevails. Now the total closure of that torturous Guantanamo Bay prison is awaited.

  192. Andy Worthington says...

    Thank you, Sabyasachi. I only just saw your message now. Very kind.

  193. Andy Worthington says...

    Razia Ahmed wrote:

    congratulations to Reprieve and especially to Andy Worthington for their untiring work

  194. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Razia, for the kind words!

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Andy Worthington

Investigative journalist, author, campaigner, commentator and public speaker. Recognized as an authority on Guantánamo and the “war on terror.” Co-founder, Close Guantánamo, co-director, We Stand With Shaker. Also, singer and songwriter (The Four Fathers) and photographer.
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