Shaker Aamer can, for the first time, be heard speaking from his prison cell in Guantanamo Bay as part of a recording made by a US news channel.
Mr Aamer, one of 84 cleared men still detained in the US prison (more than half the total population of 164), was recorded by a crew filming for the CBS show 60 Minutes. Mr Aamer is not pictured on camera but is heard saying: “Tell the world the truth…Please, we are tired. Either you leave us to die in peace — or either tell the world the truth. Let the world hear what’s happening.” Shaker goes on to say, “you cannot walk even half a metre without being chained. Is that a human being? That’s the treatment of an animal”.
It is extremely rare for any recording which can identify an individual detainee to survive censorship by authorities at the prison who screen everything which goes in and out of Guantanamo. This unique recording probably survived review only because the military authorities were concerned that the consequences of censoring America’s most powerful news program would outweigh the embarrassment of allowing a prisoner to tell the world what is happening there. On Sunday night Mr Aamer and his attorney Clive Stafford Smith, from the legal human rights charity Reprieve, appeared on 60 minutes to discuss his client’s case.
Mr Aamer has been held in Guantanamo since 2002 and been cleared for release by both the Bush and Obama administrations, yet remains detained without charge. He has British residency, and his British wife and their four children all live in South London. Earlier this year, Prime Minister David Cameron raised Mr Aamer’s case with President Obama at a G8 Summit and the British government has repeatedly stated that they want Mr Aamer returned to the UK. However, US authorities have repeatedly threatened to send Mr Aamer to his birthplace of Saudi Arabia in complete contravention to his stated wishes.
Clive Stafford Smith said: “CBS’ show gives a very rare and very shocking glimpse inside Guantanamo Bay. Everyone in the prison – the guards and the men – is suffering horribly, day after day. Obama must fulfil his promise to close the prison and Shaker Aamer must come home to his family in the UK, which is what David Cameron has said he wants.”