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Guantanamo detainee launches defamation suit against UK agencies

Guantanamo detainee Shaker Aamer [NY Times background] has filed a defamation lawsuit claiming that British agencies MI5 and MI6 [official website] had given the US statements the agencies knew to be false. While Aamer has been cleared for release from Guantanamo, he has not been returned to the UK yet. Aamer was detained in Afghanistan for allegedly fighting at an al-Qaeda stronghold, which Aamer denies, stating that he was performing charity work. Among the false information [BBC report] his lawyers claim the US interrogators received were allegations that Osama bin Laden directly paid Aamer and that Aamer had recruited fighters for al-Qaeda. Aamer's lawsuit is being brought by Reprieve [advocacy website], a legal charity focused on prisoners' rights. The suit names Foreign Secretary William Hague [official website], who supervises MI6, and Home Secretary Theresa May [official website], who supervises MI5. The lawsuit is also receiving support [press release] from British comedian Frankie Boyle. Aamer is originally from Saudi Arabia, but is married to a British citizen, and has four British children. He had been given permission to live in the UK indefinitely when he was arrested in 2001.

Aamer is the last UK resident being held at Guantanamo, and he was the center of a high-profile Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] campaign pushing for him to receive a fair trial or to be released so he may return to his family in the UK. AI has denounced [JURIST report] the detention Aamer at Guantanamo Bay, calling it a "mockery of justice." In November 2011 AI urged [JURIST report] the US and the UK to work towards the release of Aamer. AI UK Director Kate Allen called on Hague and US officials to give a specific timetable for Aamer's release. The Hague and the US have been in discussions over Aamer's release, but no formal indications of a 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 announced a settlement agreement [JURIST report] for allegations of torture. Those allegations prompted the UK to launch an investigation into torture allegations in May 2010, 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 Guantanamo, negotiating with US military officials over camp conditions and organizing hunger strikes when conditions did not improve.

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