Saturday 16 December 2017

Released Guantanamo detainee Shaker Aamer must get 'full support' after his return to UK

Shaker Aamer, the last British resident held in Guantanamo Bay
Reprieve UK/PA Wire
Shaker Aamer, the last British resident held in Guantanamo Bay Reprieve UK/PA Wire

Press Association Reporters

Shaker Aamer must receive "full support" on his return to the UK after he was released from Guantanamo Bay, an MP has said.

Andrew Mitchell told the Press Association: "I hope he will be reunited with his family as swiftly as possible and that he will receive full support as he adapts to life back in the UK after 14 years in custody without charge or trial."

Shaker Aamer has been held at Guantanamo Bay for 11 years
Shaker Aamer has been held at Guantanamo Bay for 11 years

The Tory MP was one of four politicians to fly to Washington earlier this year to press US authorities for Mr Aamer's release.

Another member of the party, shadow justice minister Andy Slaughter, said: "Shaker Aamer's release is as welcome as his continued detention was unjustifiable. Well done to all those who campaigned for his release."

Joanne MacInnes, of the We Stand With Shaker campaign, said she understood Mr Aamer has health problems which "have never really been addressed".

She said: "He also has a huge suspicion of doctors because all doctors have done so far is watch and be complicit in his torture in Guantanamo. He will have to overcome that lack of trust and hopefully finally be treated with some TLC."

She also raised concerns that the 46-year-old father of four could be tagged or monitored.

"There's no legal basis for it, because he hasn't been charged in this country," she told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

Shami Chakrabarti, director of campaign group Liberty, said: "Shaker Aamer's release will bring huge relief to his family but serious questions remain. Why did it take us so many years to persuade our closest ally to behave decently?

"How many young Britons have been radicalised, at least in part, by kidnap, internment and torture in freedom's name?

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell, chair of the Shaker Aamer All-Party Parliamentary Group, said: "I am delighted to hear this news and I'm breathing a heavy sigh of relief along with other campaigners who are happy that Shaker can now finally return to his family.

"Shaker was simply a man in the wrong place at the wrong time, a charity worker building wells in Afghanistan who was kidnapped, ransomed and falsely imprisoned.

"He has been cleared twice for release, never charged and no serious evidence has been presented against him.

"I am grateful to the Prime Minister for his intervention in the past year, and the cross-party support we have received for his release.

"I hope that he now gets the full support he needs so that he'll be able to settle back into society, and get on with the rest of his life."

Lord Carlile, the former independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, told the Press Association: "He should have been released years ago. The circumstances under which he was held were unacceptable. Therefore I welcome his release.

"As to security going forward, it is most unlikely that he presents any security threat at the present time."

Asked about concerns raised by supporters of Mr Aamer that he could be monitored or tagged, Lord Carlile said: "The state cannot arbitrarily place restrictions upon him.

"It would be quite wrong to demonise him because there is no evidence to justify demonising him in 2015.

"I am sure there will be state authorities here who would like to interview him in the hope that he will provide them with some assistance in securing the safety of the public in this country.

"My view is that he should now be given the space to spend time with his family and catch up on all he has missed while he has been detained."

Green MP Caroline Lucas, a long-standing campaigner for Mr Aamer's release, welcomed his return, saying his detention had been "entirely unjustifiable".

"The Government and security services must now guarantee the safety of Shaker and his family upon his arrival home. His lawyers must also be allowed to implement a care programme for him without any interference," she said.

"Shaker's case reinforces the urgent need for the judge-led inquiry into UK complicity in torture that the Prime Minister promised in 2010 but then backtracked on."

Tory MP David Davis said: "This is the news that we have been waiting for. Everyone who has campaigned for Shaker's release is grateful and relieved for his return to the UK.

"I can only imagine the hardships that Shaker has undergone during his lengthy incarceration, and I wish him a rapid return to health in the bosom of his family.

"In due course, when Mr Aamer is ready to talk, the Shaker Aamer All-Party Parliamentary Group, and I am sure many more MPs, look forward to seeing what he has to say about his detention.

"There are serious questions to be asked as to how a man can be held for so long without trial or even charge, away from his family and young children."

Mr Aamer's father-in-law, Saeed Siddique, told BBC News: "It's a delightful day."

He added that his release was a "surprise".

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