On Eve of 13th Anniversary of Shaker Aamer’s Arrival at Guantánamo, Renewed Calls for Action from Barack Obama and David Cameron


Andy Worthington with the Valentine's Day card made by the We Stand With Shaker campaign to mark the 13th anniversary of Shaker Aamer's arrival at Guantanamo.Despite a promise from President Obama to “prioritise” Shaker Aamer’s case after a recent meeting with British Prime Minister David Cameron, the US defense secretary Chuck Hagel has told reporters that Shaker’s file was “not on [his] desk.”

He reportedly said, “As far as I know, I have made a decision on everything that is ready to be made a decision on.” Mr. Hagel’s role is crucial, as, by law, he must sign off on any planned releases from the prison, after Congress has been given 30 days’ notice.

In a letter to David Cameron, Cori Crider, the Strategic Director of the human right organisation Reprieve, challenged the Prime Minister about what had taken place during his recent meeting with the US president. She wrote:

What assurances were you given regarding Shaker’s case by the President during your visit, beyond what the NSC spokesperson said publicly on Mr Obama’s behalf? Did the President provide any indication on when Shaker’s family can expect to see him returned to London? Did you ask the President to ensure that Shaker’s case was sent to Secretary Hagel for his consideration? And finally, in the light of Secretary Hagel’s comments, will you now press the Obama administration on providing a concrete timetable for Shaker’s return?

Clive Stafford Smith, Shaker’s lawyer, and the founder and director of Reprieve, stated:

The US Defense Secretary’s admission that Shaker’s case isn’t even on his desk suggests that Obama’s claims to be ‘prioritising’ it may be little more than weasel words. If the US government wanted to ‘prioritise’ invading a country they could do it in a week, so sending one man home to his family in London cannot be too much to ask. Coming just days after David Cameron personally requested that Shaker be returned home to Britain, it doesn’t say much for the state of the ‘Special Relationship.’

He added:

Shaker has been cleared for release twice by the US Government itself. The UK wants him brought home. It is an affront to justice that he continues to be detained, without charge or trial, 13 years after his arrival at Guantánamo. The suspicion must be that the US fears he will reveal yet more about its shameful torture programme if he is ever allowed to speak freely.

Today, February 13, the We Stand With Shaker campaign will be protesting outside the US Embassy in London with a giant Valentine’s Day card for Shaker, to urge the US Ambassador, Matthew W. Barzun, to ask President Obama to secure Shaker’s release. Valentine’s Day marks the 13th anniversary of Shaker’s arrival at Guantánamo — and also the birth of his youngest son, who he has never met — and we feel justified in having made a card bearing the message, “There is no love in Guantánamo.”

If you’re in London, please come along to the US Embassy at 4pm, to join other supporters of the campaign in demanding Shaker’s release.

Also, on Saturday February 14 (Valentine’s Day itself), we will be in Parliament Square at 12 noon, and we will then march to 10 Downing Street with the Save Shaker Aamer Campaign to deliver, at 2pm, a message of solidarity with Shaker to David Cameron, and to urge him to call for Shaker’s immediate return to the UK and his family more vigorously than he has to date — something that, in light of this latest disappointing news, is of renewed importance.

I hope to see some of you there!

Andy Worthington is a freelance investigative journalist, activist, author, photographer, film-maker and singer-songwriter. 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.

3 Responses

  1. Andy Worthington says...

    On Facebook, Ruth Gilburt wrote:

    Wish I could be there to lend my support.
    Solidarity x

  2. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Ruth. Wish you could be there!

  3. Cleared Londoner Shaker Aamer marks 13 years in Guantanamo without charge or trial | Carol Anne Grayson (Radical Sister) blog says...

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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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