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Freedom for Shaker Aamer: After 13 Years Behind Bars, British Prisoner Released from Guantánamo

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British resident Shaker Aamer has been freed from Guantánamo after more than 13 years behind bars. Aamer had been cleared for release since 2007, but the Pentagon kept him locked up without charge. During his time in captivity, Aamer claims he was subjected to abuses including torture, beatings and sleep deprivation. At one point, he lost half his body weight while on a hunger strike. Aamer is en route to London where he’ll rejoin his wife and four children. “If you think about how much our world has changed, it’s like they’re dropping them into a completely different place with very little support, and there’s no right to a remedy for the allegations of torture—which are absolutely credible—for the prolonged arbitrary detention and for any of the other violations that happened,” says our guest Widney Brown, director of programs at Physicians for Human Rights.

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Transcript
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to go to Shaker Aamer, this latest news we have that he is flying right now, as we broadcast. He has been released from Guantánamo after more than 13 years behind bars, on his way to London, home. Shaker Aamer had been cleared for release since 2007, but the Pentagon refused to set him free. During his time in captivity, he claims he was subjected to torture, beatings, sleep deprivation, at one point lost half his body weight while on a hunger strike. He’s never been charged with a crime. For all the more than 13 years he’s been held by the Americans, he has never been charged with a crime. As recently as last week, British MP Tania Mathias had called for his release.

TANIA MATHIAS: It’s very scary, because, remember, he’s cleared for release 2007 and, subsequently, 2009. So it’s a form of torture to say to somebody, “You’re released,” and then keep them again for years.

AMY GOODMAN: Can you respond to this, Widney Brown?

WIDNEY BROWN: Yeah, first to say, Shaker Aamer’s experiences just are an endless story of human rights violations, from his detention, arbitrary detention, prolonged detention, no due process for trial protections. He’s cleared for release in 2007 and held for an additional eight years. And the key issue was that, unlike the other British detainees who were released, he was a British resident, not a British citizen. And the U.S. used that as the pretext for refusing to release him even though he was cleared.

There’s also the issue of any of these men who are now being released. It’s like time travel. They have been held for, many of them, over a decade, with no access to the outside world. If you think about how much our world has changed, it’s like they’re dropping them in there with—into a completely different place with very little support, and there’s no right to a remedy for the allegations of torture—which are absolutely credible—for the prolonged arbitrary detention and for any of the other violations that happened. And one of the things that helps victims of torture heal is to be able to claim an effective remedy against the state that tortured you.

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