Guantánamo and Shaker Aamer: Andy Worthington and Omar Deghayes in Conversation on Radio Free Brighton


Listen here to my show with Omar Deghayes on Radio Free Brighton. And please sign the petition calling for the release of Shaker Aamer.

Last week, when I visited Brighton to take part in “Freedom from Torture,” an event organised by the University of Sussex Amnesty International Society, I stayed overnight with my friend Jackie Chase and her family, and, the following day, recorded a radio show about Guantánamo on Radio Free Brighton, with my friend, the former Guantánamo prisoner and Brighton resident Omar Deghayes. The 40-minute show is available here.

Jackie is a long-standing campaigner for justice, having been involved in the Save Omar campaign, to secure the return from Guantánamo of Omar Deghayes (who was freed in December 2007). Jackie then campaigned to secure the release of Binyam Mohamed, who was finally freed in February 2009, and now runs Under the Bridge Studios, a wonderfully busy community of rehearsal studios, which also houses Radio Free Brighton, which was recently recognised by Mixcloud as one of the 30 most popular online radio shows in the world.

The show began with a recording of President Obama’s broken promise to close Guantánamo within a year, which he made on his second day in office in February 2009, and I then provided a recap about the sad realities of the prison as its twelfth year of operations begins, which Luke Starr, at Radio Free Brighton, interspersed with other recordings of US political figures discussing Guantánamo.

There are 166 prisoners still held at Guantánamo, and they have been failed by all three branches of the US government — by the Obama administration, by Congress and by the courts. 86 of the 166 men were cleared for release at least three years by President Obama’s interagency Guantánamo Review Task Force, a collection of around 60 sober and responsible government officials and representatives of the intelligence agencies, who spent a year assessing all the prisoners’ cases. In addition, some of these cleared prisoners were first cleared for release under President Bush as long ago as 2004, and in other cases in 2006 and 2007.

46 others are being held indefinitely without charge or trial, regarded as “too dangerous to release” even though the administration concedes that it does not have the evidence to put them on trial. This is a disgraceful endorsement of indefinite detention, leaving those concerned in a legal, moral and ethical black hole.

Omar and I then proceeded to discuss Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in the prison, who is still held even though the US government no longer wants to hold him, and the British government has been requesting his return since 2007. Omar recalled the important role that Shaker played at Guantánamo, where he stood up for the rights of his fellow prisoners and liaised between the prisoners and the US authorities, and we both expressed our dissatisfaction with the British government’s repeated claim that it is unable to secure Shaker’s release. As America’s closest ally in the “war on terror,” we find this unconvincing, and believe that both the US and the UK are in no hurry to release Shaker because he is eloquent and extremely knowledgeable about the crimes committed in the “war on terror” at Guantánamo and elsewhere.

Omar also spoke about some of the other cleared prisoners whose ongoing detention is unacceptable — the Tunisians, for example, and the Libyans. Both groups of prisoners were opposed to the dictators in charge of their home countries, but those men — Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali and Moammar Gaddafi — have been ousted, and, in Gaddafi’s case, killed, and there is no valid reason why the men in question — five Tunisians and four Libyans — cannot now be repatriated.

There was much more in the show, and I hope that, if you have 40 minutes to spare, you’ll be able to listen to it. It ends, at Luke’s instigation, with “727,” a great song about Omar (whose prison number was 727) by Bad Science.

Note: Please sign the e-petition to the British government calling for the return of Shaker Aamer, which needs 100,000 signatures by April, and currently has over 24,000 signatures. This is for UK citizens and residents only, although anyone anywhere in the world, including UK citizens and residents, can sign the international petition to both the US and UK government on the Care 2 Petition Site.

Also, see here and here for photos from my Brighton visit.

Andy Worthington is the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by Macmillan in the US, and available from Amazon — 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. To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to my RSS feed — and I can also be found on Facebook, Twitter, Digg, Flickr (my photos) and YouTube. Also see my definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, updated in April 2012, “The Complete Guantánamo Files,” a 70-part, million-word series drawing on files released by WikiLeaks in April 2011, and details about the documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (co-directed by Polly Nash and Andy Worthington, and available on DVD here — or here for the US). Also see my definitive Guantánamo habeas list and the chronological list of all my articles, and please also consider joining the new “Close Guantánamo campaign,” and, if you appreciate my work, feel free to make a donation.

17 Responses

  1. Andy Worthington says...

    Just a reminder: please sign the petition, and get everyone you know to sign it (UK citizens and residents only):
    International petition here:

  2. Andy Worthington says...

    On Facebook, Rita Pal wrote:

    Signed the petition – held for TEN YEARS?!!!!!!!!!!! OMG!

  3. Andy Worthington says...

    Waris Ali wrote:

    Listening to it now my friend. Hello Rita, please join the twitter event for Shaker Aamer on monday here >>

  4. Andy Worthington says...

    Rita Pal wrote:

    Andy – I wanted to buy the book you wrote but its not available for Kindle. Do you have any plans to make it available electronically….

  5. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks for signing, Rita. The publisher is Pluto Press, and I haven’t received any notification that they’re planning to release it on Kindle, sadly. I need to write a new book!

  6. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks also, Waris, and thanks for the notification about the Twitter event.

  7. Andy Worthington says...

    Rita Pal wrote:

    Now that is a shame. You should try explaining to them that the world is moving towards android. 🙂 Anyway, will buy the paperback soon. Need to read it. Read a horrific article in the Lancet about the medical aspects and types of torture used there.

  8. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Rita. I’m glad to hear of your interest in the ongoing scandal of Guantanamo.

  9. Andy Worthington says...

    Pauline Kiernan wrote:

    Sharing. Thank you Andy. Px

  10. Andy Worthington says...

    Pauline Kiernan wrote:

    Andy – can’t you – sort of – insist they bring it out as an ebook? You could get the rights back and publish it as an ebook yourself?

  11. Andy Worthington says...

    Rita Pal wrote:

    Pauline, Nice one! I was kinda skirting around the issue!

  12. Andy Worthington says...

    Rita Pal wrote:

    Andy – yes, have always followed it. That is how I found your work. Difficult to get a true picture from mainstream media hence I read your material.

  13. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Pauline, and thanks again, Rita. I guess I should have a word with the publishers abut their intentions. What would be easier, in theory, would be to collect the best of my writing over the last six years into a book, but I somehow can’t seem to get round to it. I guess I’m too busy writing and publishing online in the here and now. And Rita, sorry If I implied that you were somehow new to Guantanamo. I know we’ve been in touch here for some time, and I’m as delighted as ever that I make up for the failings of the mainstream media – although I do wish they’d remember that indefinite detention is an abomination, whoever’s in charge, and whatever excuses they make for not doing anything about it!

  14. Andy Worthington says...

    Khaled Zakaria Serai wrote:

    i’m interesting about the scandal of guantanamo

  15. Andy Worthington says...

    Good to hear from you, Khaled. Do please visit my website, and/or buy my book “The Guantanamo Files” to find out more:

  16. Cosmic Surfer says...

    Andy – another great piece!

    With the horror show called John “Little Cheney” Brennan being “confirmed” by the Barack (GW Bush, jr) Obama cabal, I suspect we are in for another minimum of 4 years of lies, slaughter and kidnapping by a country hell bent on killing what is left of any moral compass in the heat of battle with the planet.

    The short-sighted hubris that is American Exceptionalism is rampant. My soul screams……………

    What evil we have wrought! What mindless, soulless inhumanity has become our battle cry?

  17. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Cosmic Surfer. Great to hear from you, my friend, but how sad that we’re still mired in the disdain for the law, morality, decency and fairness that is the ongoing legacy of the post-9/11 world. We’ll just have to keep on struggling for truth and justice!

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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 and We Stand With Shaker. Also, photo-journalist (The State of London), and singer and songwriter (The Four Fathers).
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