Last UK resident still at Guantanamo returns home after 13 years
Shaker Aamer had been detained at Guantanamo for 13 years without charge. Many have been clamouring for his repatriation since he was cleared for transfer back in 2007
Aamer has been cleared for transfer twice, first under the George W. Bush administration and then under Barack Obama. The announcement that Aamer would return to the UK was made last month as noted in a Digital Journal article. His time at Guantanamo has left Aamer in poor health:
The release was the second in less than two days but there are still 112 prisoners remaining at Guantanamo. Aamer was approved for release with security arrangements that satisfy the US Secretary of Defense Ash Carter. Aamer's wife and his four children in the UK have been working tirelessly for his release along with many others. This May, a bipartisan delegation of UK members of parliament worked for Aamer's release with Obama administration officials and members of the US Congress. Of the 112 remaining prisoner 52 are already cleared for release to other countries as was Aamer. In spite of the fact that Obama claims he is committed to closing Guantanamo the rate of release of inmates even those cleared for transfer has been painfully slow. Aamer is a Saudi national but had indefinite leave to stay in the UK where he is married to a UK citizen and has four children.
Aamer's daughter Johina now 17 has not seen her father since she was four years old. He has one son born after he had been sent to Guantanamo. Supporters of Mr. Aamer claim he was picked up in Afghanistan where he claimed he was working for a charity and sold to authorities by bounty hunters and ended up being transferred from one detention centre to another until he was rendered to Guantanamo. He claims he had been tortured. Authorities claim he was active in an Al Qaeda cell. Eventually, the media will no doubt be pressing Aamer to testify to his experiences at Guantanamo and elsewhere.
Moazzam Begg a former Guantanamo prisoner said that Aamer was probably one of the "most well-known prisoners" there as he had constantly fought for the rights of and been an advocate for the prisoners. Begg said that the effects of the long imprisonment will be lasting and he will have trouble dealing with his situation. Aamer spent long periods in solitary confinement. He also was force fed during a hunger strike. No doubt Aamer will wish to keep away from the public eye for a considerable period so he can adjust to his new situation.
A medical examination ordered by his lawyers in December 2013 revealed Aamer was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression, as well as migraine headaches, asthma and kidney pain.Cori Crider, Aamer's attorney in the US, said:
"We are, of course, delighted that Shaker is on his way back to his home and his family here in the UK. It is long, long past time. Shaker now needs to see a doctor, and then get to spend time alone with his family as soon as possible."Aamer was flown back to the UK on a private jet Friday just after midnight.