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Guantanamo detainee 'slowly dying in hellhole'

Morning Star
by Paddy McGuffin
November 24, 2011

The last British resident in Guantanamo Bay is slowly dying as a result of his continued imprisonment, a leading human rights lawyer warned today.

Today marked the 10th anniversary of former Battersea resident Shaker Aamer's initial detention in Afghanistan.

He was subsequently sold for a bounty to US forces and subjected to torture in Bagram air force base and Kandahar - with the alleged complicity of British agents - then transferred to Guantanamo Bay.

Although having been cleared for release and never having been charged with any offence he continues to languish in Guantanamo and has spent the last two years in solitary confinement.

Human rights charity Reprieve director Clive Stafford Smith managed to see Mr Aamer last week and was horrified at what he found.

He has now written to Foreign Secretary William Hague urging immediate action to secure his release, saying he fears for Mr Aamer's life.

In the letter Mr Stafford Smith said that as a result of his imprisonment Mr Aamer now suffers numerous ailments including arthritis, asthma, prostate problems, pains in his kidneys and neck, shoulder and back pain resulting from beatings.

"I do not think it is stretching matters to say that he is gradually dying in Guantanamo Bay," he wrote.

Mr Stafford Smith said an independent medical assessment was vital but that ultimately the only solution was to secure his release and return to London.

The Reprieve director said: "I saw Shaker last Thursday and he tries to put a brave face on 10 years of horrible abuse, but it is enough to wear any human being down almost to the point of death.

"Why does Britain pretend it has a special relationship if someone from London can be held for a decade without any due process, leaving his British wife without a husband and his British children without a father?"

Under US law for Mr Aamer to be released Defence Secretary Leon Panetta must certify that Britain is a safe place for him to return to and that he will commit no crimes on release - something Mr Panetta has refused to do.

"It's time someone in the British government told Leon Panetta what time of day it is," Mr Stafford Smith said.

The Foreign Office was not available for comment.

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