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Guantanamo’s last UK detainee returns home

Guantanamo’s last UK detainee returns home

LONDON: The last UK resident imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay returned home to Britain on Friday after almost 14 years in which he became a defiant spokesman for his fellow prisoners.

Shaker Aamer, a Saudi citizen who married a British woman and moved to London in the mid-1990s, arrived aboard a private plane that taxied into an airport hangar where it disappeared from sight.

Aamer, who was never charged with a crime, was released from the US military prison in Cuba on Thursday evening. Aamer’s release came after celebrities and members of Parliament joined a publicity campaign demanding he be freed and Prime Minister David Cameron urged US President Barack Obama to resolve the case.

“He needs, first, to be in a hospital, and then to be with his family,” said Clive Stafford Smith, one of Aamer’s lawyers. His release, the 15th from Guantanamo this year, brings the detainee population there to 112, and comes as part of a renewed push by Obama to close the facility opened by his predecessor after the Sept 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Centre in New York.




Aamer, 48, had told his lawyers that he would seek a medical examination in Britain because of concerns about his health stemming in part from repeated hunger strikes he staged to protest his detention.

He has received more media attention over the years than any other prisoner except the five who face trial by military commission for their alleged roles in planning and providing support to the 9/11 attacks. In a piece published in the Independent on Feb 14, 2014, the anniversary of his detention at Guantanamo, Aamer said he was seeking basic human rights and a fair trial through his then ongoing hunger strike.

Published in Dawn, October 31st, 2015

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