Shaker Aamer was taken, hooded and shackled, to the prison camp at Guantánamo Bay on the same day his youngest child was born – a child he had never met, touched, or even seen.
Shaker is a permanent UK resident, married to a British woman, with four British children living in London. He was volunteering for a charity in Afghanistan in 2001 when he was abducted and sold for a bounty to U.S. forces. He was tortured, and eventually cracked, agreeing to whatever his captors accused him of doing. Satisfied with the confession of an abused and broken man, U.S. forces took him to Guantánamo Bay on Valentine’s Day 2002.
Reprieve began representing him, and Shaker was cleared for release in 2007. This process required six U.S. government agencies to agree that he was no threat to the U.S. or its allies and could be released.
On September 25, 2015, it was announced that Shaker would be freed. On Friday, October 30, 2015, he was finally returned home to the UK. He is now recovering from his ordeal, and rebuilding his life.
Shaker went on hunger strike many times in peaceful protest at his detention and the appalling conditions in which he and his fellow detainees were held. In retaliation, the guards beat him, confined him to a tiny cell, and forced him to spend long periods in solitary confinement. Shaker was examined by an independent doctor who listed a catalog of debilitating conditions. Before his release, Reprieve lawyers said he was ‘unrecognizable’ from the man who was abducted 14 years ago.
“My dear wife and lovely kids, I don’t know when I am coming out but pray for me that it will be soon. I cried a lot when you told me about how the kids talk to their cars and toys as if I am talking to them on the phone. Please try to be easy on them. Don’t send any pictures of the kids – it will make it hard on me here in jail. Whatever happens to me be with Allah. I love you all.”
– Shaker’s first letter from Guantánamo, 2003
Shaker’s Reprieve lawyer Clive Stafford Smith maintained that Shaker was held for years after being cleared for release because he witnessed U.S. and UK agents torturing men while he was in detention.
“It is deeply suspicious that the UK won’t say why their friends in the US refuse to transfer Shaker home to London. The US and UK intelligence services appear to be working together to ensure Shaker stays where he is or gets shipped off to Saudi Arabia. Shaker knows too much. National embarrassment isn’t a reason to keep a man who has been cleared for release locked away in prison. Shaker must be returned to his family in London at once.”
– Clive Stafford Smith