Keep Up the Fast For Shaker Aamer, As Foreign Office and State Department Say Release Delayed Until Late This Week or Early Next Week

27.10.15

Andy Worthington's band The Four Fathers ask, "Where is Shaker Aamer?" on the evening of October 27, 2015. From L to R: Richard Clare, Louis Sills-Clare, Bren Horstead and Andy Worthington.

Join the Fast For Shaker here!

After all the expectation that Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in Guantánamo, would be returned to the UK on Sunday, at the end of the 30-day notification period required by Congress (following the announcement on September 25 that he would be freed), it has been a disappointing few days, with only rumours and vague reassurances to indicate that his release is imminent.

Today, for example, the Daily Mail reported that Shaker “is expected to return to the UK within days” — adding that he is “due to leave the infamous camp later this week or early next according to sources in the UK and US.”

A source in Whitehall told the Mail, “He will be out within days. We’re working on the practical details of how it will happen.”

In addition, a senior official in the US State Department said, “Shaker is coming home and it will be in the near term. The delay past the 30-day mark is due to logistical arrangements. We cannot release the exact date he will be released due to security concerns. Shaker will be coming home.”

The Mail also noted the claims, aired widely yesterday, that Shaker’s release “was delayed to appease” three Republican Senators visiting the prison, who were said to be on a “fact-finding” mission. Today came further rumours that Shaker’s release is being delayed because of the media visiting for the latest pre-trial hearings relating to the proposed trial of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other men accused of involvement in the 9/11 attacks.

Clive Stafford Smith, the founder of Reprieve, and one of Shaker’s lawyers, said, “Sadly, as we have said all along, it looks like those who don’t want Shaker released are dragging their feet. We want to thank all those who have been committed to helping Shaker, but we must all continue to press the authorities on both sides of the Atlantic to do as they promised.”

Clive added, “Surely 14 years of abuse is enough — every additional day is an additional insult to justice. He has to come home now, and his family must be put out of their eternal misery.”

Downing Street refused to make an official comment on Shaker’s delayed release, but David Cameron’s spokesman said, “We have been working with the US to make sure the case is dealt with as quickly as possible.”

In the afternoon I went to a meeting of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Shaker Aamer, attended by six MPs, including co-chairs John McDonnell and David Davis, and vice-chairs Andrew Mitchell and Andy Slaughter. The APPG will be issuing a statement tomorrow morning, but in the meantime I spoke to the Wandsworth Guardian, who asked for a statement.

I said, as the co-director of We Stand with Shaker and Fast for Shaker, “While we are delighted to hear of Shaker Aamer’s impending release, we remain cautious until his plane has touched down on UK soil and he is reunited with his family. There have been too many false promises over the years, since he was approved for release in 2007, under George W. Bush, and again under Barack Obama in January 2010.”

I added, “We are encouraging supporters to continue the Fast For Shaker that we started on October 15 until Shaker is back in the UK. Over 400 people, including celebrities, MPs and concerned citizens around the world, have been fasting for 24 hours in solidarity with Shaker since that date. It is time that his long and completely unjustifiable ordeal is finally over.”

Note: Thanks to Benedick Tranchell for the posters held by The Four Fathers at the top of this article. Check out ‘Song for Shaker Aamer‘ on Bandcamp (where you can also buy it as a download), as featured on the album ‘Love and War.’

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.

14 Responses

  1. Andy Worthington says...

    When I posted this on Facebook, I wrote:

    Here’s the latest news – or non-news – about Shaker Aamer’s expected release from ‪‎Guantanamo‬ – the reassurances from the Foreign Office and the State Department that he could be back home within days, and that it’s only “logistical arrangements” keeping him at Guantanamo any longer. Tomorrow there’ll be a statement from the Shaker Aamer Parliamentary Group, whose meeting I attended today, but in the meantime keep up the pressure by joining the ‪‎ Fast For Shaker‬. 411 people have now pledged to fast for 24 hours in solidarity with Shaker, and 12 people are fasting tomorrow: http://www.fastforshaker.org.uk/pledge-a-fast/

  2. Andy Worthington says...

    Natalia R Scott wrote:

    “Logistical arrangements”? Horrible people!

  3. Andy Worthington says...

    Yes, they have no shame, Natalia. Good to hear from you.

  4. Curt Wechsler says...

    “disappointing few days” for Shaker, I’m sure. I’ll celebrate when he’s landed in London.

  5. Andy Worthington says...

    Yes indeed, Curt. Very good to hear from you, my friend.

  6. Andy Worthington says...

    Amatulhaqq Bintibnali wrote:

    Keep up the good work Andy!

  7. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks for the supportive words, Amatulhaqq. Good to hear from you.

  8. Anna says...

    Re earlier message about problem registering fast.
    Now I get the following message :

    “This email has already been used for a pledge. Please use a different email.”

    I do not know whether it means that my previous attempt (for November 1st) was registered after all and just not yet added to the list, or this refers to my pledge for October 15th ?
    However, I’ll fast anyway, whether it’ll be officially registered or not :-).

  9. Andy Worthington says...

    Hi Anna,
    Your first fast is happily on the system, no problem. Your second wasn’t registered.
    After some tweaking, our web designer is now allowing second pledges, but only with a different email. Does that work for you?
    Of course, as you say, you can fast anyway – and you’re welcome to send us another photo and message!

  10. arcticredriver says...

    Thanks Andy!

    Can I suggest to Kurt we celebrate twice? Once when he is back in the UK, and a second time when his new UK doctors say his immediate health outlook is clear.

  11. Andy Worthington says...

    Yes, arcticredriver. No problem!

  12. Andy Worthington says...

    Here’s today’s update about Shaker Aamer – and apologies for the delay in reporting it. I was out all day, on family business. This morning I heard that Ahmed Ould Abdel Aziz, a Mauritanian in Guantanamo, has been repatriated. Great news for Ahmed, of course, who was approved for release in 2009, and was never involved in any kind of activities against the US. My article about his release will follow soon, probably tomorrow.
    However, it seems that the process of notifying Congress of his release mirrored that of Shaker Aamer, but whereas the US authorities have been able to fly him back to Mauritania, the British appear to have been unable to get a plane to Guantanamo to bring Shaker home. The only consolation? A British plane may be arriving at Guantanamo as early as tomorrow. Watch this space!
    In the meantime, please keep taking part in the ‪‎Fast For Shaker‬. 423 people have now pledged to fast, and 15 people are fasting tomorrow: http://www.fastforshaker.org.uk/pledge-a-fast/

  13. Martin says...

    Congratulation Andy. Just like I thought, Shaker was released today.

  14. Andy Worthington says...

    Yes, Martin. For some reason I thought it would be early Sunday morning!

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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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