Last week, the plight of Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in Guantánamo, briefly surfaced in the media when the Independent ran a story by Paul Cahalan, who, for several years, has covered Shaker Aamer’s story extensively for the Wandsworth Guardian, in Aamer’s home borough in London, where his wife and his four children live.
In Cahalan’s article, “Fears grow over Britain’s last inmate at Guantánamo Bay,” a source close to Shaker Aamer’s case, who did not wish to be identified, told him, “Mr. Aamer is an individual separated from his family for almost 10 years, living in intolerable conditions with no end in sight. He is a very intelligent man who can’t accept his detention as lawful or just.”
More significantly, the source added, “He has suffered brutal treatment, even torture, because of recent events and his condition appears to be declining. He is being held in one of the worst prison camps and has been on hunger strike for a couple of weeks. He is fearful that he is not receiving the medical treatment that he needs.”
Cahalan noted that Aamer’s lawyers in the UK, at Birnberg Peirce and Co., “did not comment on the claims,” but it is clear that they come from someone with knowledge of the conditions in which Shaker Aamer is held.
Cahalan also spoke to Saeed Siddique, Shaker Aamer’s father-in-law, who revealed for the first time that his wife and children “recently used an internet webcam to see their father for the first time in nearly 10 years. Mr Aamer’s youngest son, Faris, who is 10, had never laid eyes on him before.”
He added that seeing his father for the first time had made Faris “very happy” and the family was “looking at ways of highlighting Mr. Aamer’s plight” ahead of his tenth anniversary in US custody, in December. He also said that lawyers were “looking at getting an independent doctor to visit Mr. Aamer in Guantánamo.”
Now 43 years old, Shaker Aamer was seized in Afghanistan in December 2001 after traveling there with his family to run humanitarian aid projects, including running a girls’ school and various well-digging projects. He is reportedly an extremely charismatic individual, who exerted such an influence on his fellow prisoners, encouraging them to stand up for their rights, that the US authorities called him “the Professor,” and decided, erroneously, that he had to have some sort of connection to al-Qaeda. As a result, he was held in solitary confinement for several years, and, according to Aamer himself, was also subjected to beatings and sleep deprivation.