[JURIST] The Obama administration on Friday notified Congress of its plan to release Guantanamo Bay inmate Shaker Aamer [Reprieve.org profile] to the United Kingdom next month. Aamer, who was captured in Afghanistan in 2001, is the final British resident held in the United States’ military prison. Although he denies association, Aamer allegedly held close ties to Osama Bin Laden [PBS backgrounder] and al-Qaeda [Telegraph backgrounder], and fought in the battle of Tora Bora [PBS report]. Now, the Saudi national, who married a Briton in 1990, will be sent back to the UK in mid-October, following a long run of lobbying by British politicians and celebrities to have Aamer released.
Aamer’s release comes in the midst of President Obama’s efforts to close the Guantanamo Bay military prison. Earlier this month, a judge for the US District Court for the District of Columbia ordered the release [JURIST report] of eight videos depicting forced-feeding at Guantanamo Bay as part of Abu Wa’el Dhiab’s suit against the federal government. At the beginning of September, White House spokesperson Josh Earnest said President Barack Obama is considering a “wide array” [JURIST report] of options for closing the US military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. While Earnest said that Congressional consent would be the best means to shut the facility down, he would not rule out executive action as a last resort. The Guantanamo Bay prison [JURIST backgrounder] was set up in 2002 by the Bush administration as a facility to hold the most dangerous war criminals. At its peak in 2003, the prison had a population of 684 inmates. When Obama took office in 2008, one of his first directives was to close the facility, but he has faced considerable opposition in achieving that goal. On July 1, US Secretary of State John Kerry appointed [JURIST report] Lee Wolowsky to effectuate the closure of Guantanamo Bay.