Tuesday 19 September 2017

Son tells of pain over Guantanamo inmate father

Shaker Aamer has been held at Guantanamo Bay without charge or trial for 13 years
Shaker Aamer has been held at Guantanamo Bay without charge or trial for 13 years

By Kate Ferguson

There are mounting calls for Guantanamo inmate Shaker Aamer to be allowed back home to Britain as he faces his 13th anniversary in the camp.

British resident Mr Aamer, 46, is still detained without trial in the US maximum security prison despite being cleared for release in 2007.

Barack Obama last month said he would "prioritise" his case after David Cameron raised the father-of-four's plight in high profile talks.

But a month later he remains locked up and no explanation has been given as to why he has not been freed.

His family and campaigners are calling for him to be released and reunited with his wife and children at their south London home.

In his first interview, Mr Aamer's son Michael, 15, told Sky News that a part of his heart is missing since his father's arrest.

He said: "We thought there might be a chance for him to come home, but it just kept getting delayed.

"We just felt more sad because nothing happened. We've seen other people with their parents... seen how they enjoy themselves, how they're so close to them.

"It's like there is a part of our heart that is missing because we've been yearning for him to come home for many years and nothing's happened yet."

Mr Aamer was born in Saudi Arabia but his wife and four children are British citizens living in south London.

His youngest son Faris, was born on the same day Mr Aamer arrived at Guantanamo - on Valentine's Day 2002 - and has never met his father.

Clive Stafford Smith, director of legal charity Reprieve, which represents Mr Aamer said: "President Obama's claim that he will 'prioritise' Shaker's case rings rather hollow, since he is the most powerful person in the world and is perfectly able to put Shaker on a plane to London and his long-suffering family within 24 hours.

"Eight hundred years ago the Magna Carta assured us that to nobody will we 'deny or delay justice'. Thirteen years in a military prison without charge or trial is an affront to the most basic standards of justice. The Prime Minister needs to tell Shaker's children when their father is coming home."

Mr Aamer moved with his pregnant wife and young family to Afghanistan in 2001, where he says he was working for a charity.

But with coalition forces entering Afghanistan to drive out al Qaida after 9/11, Reprieve claims Mr Aamer was abducted and sold for a bounty to US forces.

He claims he has been beaten, tortured and starved of sleep and food inside the infamous prison camp in Cuba.

Calls for his release have cross-party support and attracted the backing of celebrities.

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