Shaker Aamer 'must be freed' for torture probe

by Paddy McGuffin
Morning Star

The pledged inquiry into British complicity in torture cannot serve justice while Guantanamo prisoner Shaker Aamer remains in detention, human rights campaigners insisted on Thursday.

Mr Aamer has been held in Guantanamo for eight years without charge or trial.

During his detention there and at Bagram airbase in Afghanistan, Mr Aamer has been subjected to brutal torture. He alleges that on at least one occasion a British agent was present when he was abused.

This week PM David Cameron outlined the details of the long-overdue inquiry into numerous allegations of MI5 and MI6 complicity in torture.

He made no mention of Mr Aamer, who campaigners argue would be a key witness to the investigation.

Commenting on the omission, Amnesty International UK director Kate Allen said: "What the inquiry means for Shaker Aamer is completely unclear. Are allegations that the UK was involved in his mistreatment during his detention in Bagram and Guantanamo going to be investigated by the inquiry?

"Indeed, what are (inquiry chair) Sir Peter Gibson and his team going to do about the fact that Shaker is still held without charge or trial at Guantanamo and therefore not able to attend the inquiry at all?

"To make this process more meaningful, the Cameron-Clegg government needs to push for the release of Shaker and his fellow detainee Ahmed Belbacha - the Algerian formerly living in Britain."

Ray Silk of the Save Shaker Aamer campaign said: "The inquiry will be incomplete and therefore of limited value if British resident Shaker Aamer remains in Guantanamo.

"He is a prime witness and victim of rendition and torture and his allegations of torture in the presence of UK agents must be investigated."