We Stand With Shaker: Open Letter to David Cameron Calls for Release of Shaker Aamer from Guantánamo and His Return to the UK


The launch of the We Stand With Shaker campaign outside the Houses of Parliament on November 24, 2014, featuring, from L to R: Roger Waters, Clive Stafford Smith, Andy Worthington, Joanne MacInnes and Caroline Lucas.UPDATE December 18: Please note that the signatory list has been updated with 16 new names, including Bill Nighy, Ken Loach, David Hare, Jeanette Winterson, Andrew Motion, Carol Ann Duffy, Susie Orbach and MPs Sir Alan Duncan and Diane Abbott. UPDATE January 20: More names were added in the New Year, including the novelist Mark Haddon (The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time) and many more writers, actors, MPs and other celebrities. 

Today (December 15), the We Stand With Shaker campaign that I launched with campaigner Joanne MacInnes three weeks ago secured a ringing endorsement from the Daily Mail — which highlighted Shaker’s plight in a front-page story and editorial on Friday — with the publication, in today’s edition of the Daily Mail, of an open letter to David Cameron, which I wrote, calling for the PM “to pick up the phone to President Obama, and to bring Shaker Aamer home.” The letter was also published on the We Stand With Shaker website.

The open letter is signed by dozens of actors, comedians, politicians, writers and other prominent individuals, including music legend Roger Waters (ex-Pink Floyd) and Clive Stafford Smith, the director of the legal action charity Reprieve, who both attended the launch on November 24, the comedian Frankie Boyle, the journalist Jemima Khan, actress Juliet Stevenson, actor Mark Rylance, singer Sophie Ellis-Bextor, Shami Chakrabarti, the director of Liberty, and Kate Allen, the director of Amnesty International UK.

More signatories will be published in the Daily Mail tomorrow — and I will be updating the list here and on the We Stand With Shaker website accordingly.

The full letter is below. Please feel free to share it widely! There is a real momentum to the campaign at the moment, with lots of TV coverage today, and a profile of the campaign in the Guardian‘s G2 supplement.

Please also continue to support us — on Facebook and on Twitter, watch our campaign video and our Human Rights Day video, check out our photos of celebrities standing with our giant inflatable figure of Shaker, and feel free to send in photos of yourself holding signs that read, “I Stand With Shaker” to our website, to join the others here. Also on this page are details of how you can contact David Cameron, Barack Obama and other senior officials to demand Shaker’s release.

An Open Letter to David Cameron Calling for the Release of Shaker Aamer from Guantánamo and His Return to the UK

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 Guantánamo,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, We Stand With Shaker
Andy Worthington, We Stand With Shaker
Joy Hurcombe, Chair, Save Shaker Aamer Campaign
Roger Waters, musician (ex-Pink Floyd)
Clive Stafford Smith, Director, Reprieve
Juliet Stevenson, actress
Mark Rylance, actor
Frankie Boyle, comedian
Jeremy Hardy, comedian
Bill Nighy, actor
Harriet Walter, actress
Bill Paterson, actor
Sara Pascoe, comedian
Janet Ellis, actress/broadcaster
Lyndsey Marshal, actress
John McAndrew, actor
Racquel Cassidy, actress (Downton Abbey)
Julie Hesmondhalgh, actress (Coronation Street)
Original cast members from the 2004 Tricycle Theatre production of ‘Guantanamo: Honor Bound to Defend Freedom’ by Gillian Slovo and Victoria Brittain: Daniel Cerqueira, Alan Parnaby, William Hoyland, Jan Chappell and Patrick Robinson
Ken Loach, film director
David Hare, playwright
Nicolas Kent, theatre director
Elyse Dodgson, Associate Director, Royal Court Theatre
Phillip John, TV director (Downton Abbey), screenwriter
David Lan, artistic director, Young Vic
David Edgar, playwright
Sophie Ellis-Bextor, singer
Peter Oborne, journalist and author
Jemima Khan, journalist
Nick Davies, journalist and author
John Pilger, journalist and broadcaster
David Davis MP (Conservative, Haltemprice and Howden)
Sir John Randall MP (Conservative, Uxbridge and South Ruislip)
Alistair Burt MP (Conservative, North East Bedfordshire)
Sir Alan Duncan MP (Conservative, Rutland and Melton)
Andrew Mitchell MP (Conservative, Sutton Coldfield)
Caroline Lucas MP (Green, Brighton Pavilion)
John McDonnell MP (Labour, Hayes and Harlington)
Andy Slaughter MP (Labour, Hammersmith)
George Galloway MP (Respect, Bradford West)
Jeremy Corbyn MP (Labour, Islington North)
Diane Abbott MP (Labour, Hackney North and Stoke Newington)
Jim Cunningham MP (Labour, Coventry South)
Dame Joan Ruddock MP (Labour, Lewisham Deptford)
Sir Gerald Kaufman MP (Labour, Manchester Gorton)
Tom Clarke MP (Labour, Coatbridge, Chryston and Bellshill)
Yasmin Qureshi MP (Labour, Bolton South East)
Stephen Timms MP (Labour, East Ham)
Mark Durkan MP (SDLP, Foyle)
Norman Baker MP (Liberal Democrat, Lewes)
John Leech MP (Liberal Democrat, Manchester Withington)
Dr. Julian Huppert MP (Liberal Democrat, Cambridge)
John Thurso MP (Liberal Democrat, Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross)
Jean Lambert MEP (Green, London)
Natalie Bennett, Leader, Green Party of England and Wales
Baroness Jenny Jones (Green, House of Lords)
Baroness Helena Kennedy QC (Labour, House of Lords)
Shami Chakrabarti, Director, Liberty
Kate Allen, Director, Amnesty International UK
Denis Halliday, former Assistant Director-General, United Nations
Mark Haddon, novelist
Jeanette Winterson, writer
Andrew Motion, former Poet Laureate
Carol Ann Duffy, Poet Laureate
Anna Perera, author, Guantanamo Boy
Benjamin Zephaniah, poet and author
Sarah Dunant, writer/broadcaster
Rachel Holmes, writer
Robert Wyatt, musician
Sarah Gillespie, singer/songwriter
Gilad Atzmon, musician and writer
David Knopfler, musician
Shaykh Suliman Ghani, imam, TV presenter and teacher
John Rees, co-founder, Stop the War Coalition
Peter Tatchell, human rights campaigner
Moazzam Begg, Director of Outreach, Cage
Dr. David Nicholl, neurologist
Gillian Slovo, novelist and playwright
Lisa Appignanesi, writer
Susie Orbach, psychotherapist and writer
Clare Solomon, press officer, People’s Assembly Against Austerity
Dr. Saleyha Ahsan, doctor and journalist
Charlie Winston, platinum-selling singer
Caroline Montagu, writer on the Middle East
John Montagu, Earl of Sandwich, cross-bench peer
Aisha Maniar, organiser, London Guantánamo Campaign
Carol Anne Grayson, writer/researcher
SE (His Excellency) Prince Stefano Massimo di Roccasecca dei Volsci

Andy Worthington is a freelance investigative journalist, activist, author, photographer and film-maker. He is the co-founder of the “Close Guantánamo” campaign, the 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 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. 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.

11 Responses

  1. Andy Worthington says...

    On Facebook, after my friend Pauline Kiernan shared this, I wrote:

    Thanks for sharing, Pauline. It’s all still amazingly hectic!

  2. Andy Worthington says...

    Pauline Kiernan wrote:

    Well you are superman, Andy. Hectic is a doddle! Px

  3. Andy Worthington says...

    Ha! Thanks again, Pauline.

  4. Andy Worthington says...

    Sairah Ya wrote:

    You’re such an amazing and kind hearted person, Andy. Thank you for your ongoing efforts, they are inspirational and I pray God blesses you and your family 🙂

  5. Andy Worthington says...

    Thank you, Sairah, for the kind and supportive words.

  6. Andy Worthington says...

    Cyndy Tyler wrote:

    Andy, you are a real hero to more then you will ever know. Thanks.

  7. Andy Worthington says...

    Thank you, Cyndy. That’s very much appreciated!

  8. Andy Worthington says...

    Ben Camfield wrote:

    And whilst this poor fellow is locked away enduring who knows what horrors, there are kids over here spewing idiocy like “and this is why I think it’s ok to torture terrorists”.

  9. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Ben, yes. Very well put.

  10. Andy Worthington says...

    Mark Blackford wrote:

    British government doesn’t want to see him free and able to tell of the complicity to torture and deaths.

  11. Andy Worthington says...

    Yes, I think that may be the case with both the US and the UK governments, Mark, but there has to be a limit to how long they can hide their embarrassment.

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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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