Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] on Monday urged the US and the UK to work towards the release [press release] of the last British Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] detainee, Shaker Aamer, whom AI claims is being arbitrarily detained. Aamer, a UK resident, has been held by the US since 2002 on claims that he was fighting with the Taliban. Currently in his ninth year of detainment, the US has yet to charge Aamer with any crime. AI's UK director, Kate Allen, called on Foreign Secretary William Hague and US officials to give a specific timetable for Aamer's release:
In the absence of charges or a proper trial we now need to see ... Mr Hague and the US authorities agreeing a specific timetable for Shaker's release. Dealing with what the government calls "legacy issues" in the "war on terror" must mean ensuring justice for Shaker. William Hague should make it a priority that he is returned to his family in Britain. At Amnesty we've always said that where the authorities suspect a person of terrorism they should be charged and given a fair hearing, but Guantanamo Bay has been an utter travesty of justice.Hague and the US have been in discussions over Aamer's release, but no indications of his release have been made. The UK agrees that if Aamer is released, they will be wiling to accept him, as they did with former detainee Binyam Mohammed [JURIST report].
Aamer is one of 16 Guantanamo Bay detainees for whom the UK government recently announced a settlement [JURIST report] agreement for allegations of torture. Those allegations prompted the UK to launch an investigation into torture allegations in May, as well as issue a ruling that state intelligence agencies cannot use secret evidence [JURIST reports] in their defense against abuse. Aamer has been described as an activist within the Guantanamo detention center, negotiating with US military officials [Guardian report] over camp conditions and organizing hunger strikes when conditions did not improve. US President Barack Obama [official website] issued an executive order [JURIST report] in 2009 directing that the Guantanamo Bay military prison be closed "as soon as practicable, and no later than 1 year from the date of this order." Although progress is being made, there are currently 174 men still detained at the facility, the majority of whom have been there for more than eight years without facing charges.