Innocent Guantanamo prisoner will be freed after thirteen years

This video from the USA is called Free at Last- Martin Luther King, Jr.

This music video is called PJ Harvey-Shaker Aamer.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Freedom at last

Saturday 26th September 2015

Shaker Aamer cleared for release after 13 years in Guantanamo

AFTER 13 years of unimaginable torment, torture and abuse, it was finally confirmed yesterday that the last Briton in Guantanamo Shaker Aamer is to be released.

Mr Aamer, who has been held without charge or trial and who has twice been cleared for release by the US authorities, continued to languish in the US gulag despite an international campaign to secure his freedom.

During this time he suffered lengthy periods in solitary confinement and almost daily beatings.

Hopes had initially been raised earlier this year following a cross-party parliamentary delegation to the US that Mr Aamer could be released in June, but as this deadline elapsed fears grew once more for his mental and physical well-being.

But the Foreign Office officially confirmed that he was to be returned to Britain to at long last be united with his wife and children, the youngest of whom he has never seen.

British resident Mr Aamer, 46, who is a Saudi national, was originally detained in Afghanistan in 2001.

He was sold to the US for a bounty and detained first in the infamous Bagram airbase detention facility before being transferred to Guantanamo.

His release is expected to take place once the 30-day notice period set by the US authorities has expired.

Mr Aamer’s lawyer and director of legal action charity Reprieve Clive Stafford Smith said: “This is great news, albeit about 13 years too late.

“But they only just gave notice to Congress, so that means that without robust intervention Shaker and his family have to wait until October 25 at the earliest for their reunion.

“The UK must demand President Obama that he should be on a plane tomorrow, so that Shaker’s family do not have to endure more of the agony of waiting, uncertain every time a phone rings.

“British politicians may bombasticate about our ‘robust and effective systems to deal with suspected terrorists,’ but Shaker is not and never has been a terrorist and has been cleared by the Americans themselves for eight years.

“I hope the authorities will understand that what he wants most is to be left alone with his family to start rebuilding his life.”

Jeremy Corbyn, who has long campaigned for Mr Aamer’s release, said he was “very pleased” to hear about Mr Aamer.

He said: “We must recognise the steadfastness of his family and the commitment of all those who joined this campaign, whether they lobbied their MPs or demonstrated on the streets outside Parliament against this clear injustice.

Save Shaker Aamer Campaign chair Joy Hurcombe, who has tirelessly campaigned for his release, told the Star: “Let’s hope the terrible ordeal for Shaker will finally come to an end. He has suffered so much gross injustice. We must now make sure that Shaker is able to have the time to recover from all his years of isolation and torture without too much media intrusion.”

Shaker Aamer family call on US not to delay freeing him from Guantánamo. Washington says Saudi translator, married to a Briton, will be released, but his lawyers and friends worry process may be dragged out for months: here.

Update: here.

Mohammed el Gharani, one of the youngest detainees in Guantánamo history, is sharing his story. (Read more here)

Guantanamo Bay torture camp still open in 2011

This video says about itself:

Torture -The Guantanamo Guidebook

28 August 2012

UK’s channel 4 “Guantanamo Handbook” documentary.

1 December 2011. An Open Letter to the US Congress From Members of the British Parliament About Guantanamo. Jeremy Corbyn, John Leech, Caroline Lucas and Michael Meacher, Truthout: “As a group of elected members of Parliament (MP) from all the main parties represented at Westminster, we are outraged by the current position of the US Congress which, apparently, means that Guantanamo Bay prison will never be closed, and, of particular concern to us, that a British resident who was cleared for release more than two years ago, cannot return here.” See the letter here.

22 July 2015: ONE GLARING ITEM LEFT ON OBAMA’S TO-DO LIST: GUANTANAMO “President Obama is enjoying a winning streak lately, with the Supreme Court reaffirming his signature health care law and Iran agreeing to curbs on its nuclear program. But one longstanding goal continues to bedevil him: closing the wartime prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The administration’s fitful effort to shut down the prison is collapsing again.” [NYT]

CIA sexual torture, new report

This video from the USA says about itself:

Torture Report Includes ‘Rectal Hummus’ & Other Shocking Brutalities

9 December 2014

“A scathing report released by the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday found that the Central Intelligence Agency routinely misled the White House and Congress about the information it obtained from the detention and interrogation of terrorism suspects, and that its methods were more brutal than the C.I.A. acknowledged either to Bush administration officials or to the public.

The long-delayed report, which took five years to produce and is based on more than six million internal agency documents, is a sweeping indictment of the C.I.A.‘s operation and oversight of a program carried out by agency officials and contractors in secret prisons around the world in the years after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. It also provides a macabre accounting of some of the grisliest techniques that the C.I.A. used to torture and imprison terrorism suspects.

Detainees were deprived of sleep for as long as a week, and were sometimes told that they would be killed while in American custody. With the approval of the C.I.A.’s medical staff, some C.I.A. prisoners were subjected to medically unnecessary “rectal feeding” or “rectal hydration” — a technique that the C.I.A.‘s chief of interrogations described as a way to exert “total control over the detainee.” C.I.A. medical staff members described the waterboarding of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the chief planner of the Sept. 11 attacks, as a “series of near drownings.””* The Young Turks hosts Dave Rubin (The Rubin Report), Ben Mankiewicz and Jimmy Dore (The Jimmy Dore Show) break it down.

*Read more here.

From Reuters news agency in New York, USA:

CIA sex abuse and torture went beyond Senate report disclosures, detainee says

Majid Khan, who underwent ‘enhanced interrogation’, says authorities poured ice water on his genitals and hung him naked from a beam for days

Tuesday 2 June 2015 17.16 BST

The US Central Intelligence Agency used a wider array of sexual abuse and other forms of torture than was disclosed in a Senate report last year, according to a Guantánamo Bay detainee turned government cooperating witness.

Majid Khan said interrogators poured ice water on his genitals, twice videotaped him naked and repeatedly touched his “private parts” – none of which was described in the Senate report. Interrogators, some of whom smelled of alcohol, also threatened to beat him with a hammer, baseball bats, sticks and leather belts, Khan said.

Khan’s is the first publicly released account from a high-value al-Qaida detainee who experienced the “enhanced interrogation techniques” of President George W Bush’s administration after the September 11, 2001 attacks on the US.

Khan’s account is contained in 27 pages of interview notes his lawyers compiled over the past seven years. The US government cleared the notes for release last month through a formal review process.

Before the Senate report detailed the agency’s interrogation methods last December, CIA officials prohibited detainees and their lawyers from publicly describing interrogation sessions, deeming detainees’ memories of the experience classified.

In exchange for serving as a government witness, Khan will be sentenced to up to 19 years in prison, with the term beginning on the date of his guilty plea. …

Khan was captured in Pakistan and held at an unidentified CIA “black site” from 2003 to 2006, according to the Senate report. Khan’s lawyers declined to comment on where he was captured or held, which they said remained classified.

In the interviews with his lawyers, Khan described a carnival-like atmosphere of abuse when he arrived at the CIA detention facility.

“I wished they had killed me,” Khan told his lawyers. He said that he experienced excruciating pain when hung naked from poles and that guards repeatedly held his head under ice water.

“‘Son, we are going to take care of you,’” Khan said his interrogators told him. “‘We are going to send you to a place you cannot imagine.’”

Current and former CIA officials declined to comment on Khan’s account.

Khan’s description of his experience matches some of the most disturbing findings of the US Senate report, the product of a five-year review by Democratic staffers of 6.3m internal CIA documents. CIA officials and many Republicans dismissed the report’s findings as exaggerated.

Years before the report was released, Khan complained to his lawyers that he had been subjected to forced rectal feedings. Senate investigators found internal CIA documents confirming that Khan had received involuntary rectal feeding and rectal hydration. In an incident widely reported in news media after the release of the Senate investigation, CIA cables showed that “Khan’s ‘lunch tray’, consisting of hummus, pasta with sauce, nuts, and raisins, was ‘pureed’ and rectally infused”.

The CIA maintains that rectal feedings were necessary after Khan went on a hunger strike and pulled out a feeding tube that had been inserted through his nose. Senate investigators said Khan was cooperative and did not remove the feeding tube.

Most medical experts say rectal feeding is of no therapeutic value. His lawyers call it rape.

Khan told his lawyers that some of the worst torture occurred in a May 2003 interrogation session, when guards stripped him naked, hung him from a wooden beam for three days and provided him with water but no food. The only time he was removed from the beam was on the afternoon of the first day, when interrogators shackled him, placed a hood over his head and lowered him into a tub of ice water.

An interrogator then forced Khan’s head underwater until he feared he would drown. The questioner pulled Khan’s head out of the water, demanded answers to questions and again dunked his head underwater, the detainee said. Guards also poured water and ice from a bucket on to Khan’s mouth and nose.

Khan was again hung on the pole hooded and naked. Every two to three hours, interrogators hurled ice water on his body and set up a fan to blow air on him, depriving him of sleep, he said. Once, after hanging on the pole for two days, Khan began hallucinating, thinking he was seeing a cow and a giant lizard.

“I lived in anxiety every moment of every single day about the fear and anticipation of the unknown,” Khan said, describing his panic attacks and nightmares at the black site. “Sometimes, I was struggling and drowning under water, or driving a car and I could not stop.“

In a July 2003 session, Khan said, CIA guards hooded and hung him from a metal pole for several days and repeatedly poured ice water on his mouth, nose and genitals. At one point, he said, they forced him to sit naked on a wooden box during a 15-minute videotaped interrogation. After that, Khan said, he was shackled to a wall, which prevented him from sleeping.

When a doctor arrived to check his condition, Khan begged for help, he said. Instead, Khan said, the doctor instructed the guards to again hang him from the metal bar. After hanging from the pole for 24 hours, Khan was forced to write a “confession” while being videotaped naked.

Khan’s account also includes previously undisclosed forms of alleged CIA abuse, according to experts. Khan said his feet and lower legs were placed in tall boot-like metal cuffs that dug into his flesh and immobilized his legs. He said he felt that his legs would break if he fell forward while restrained by the cuffs.

Khan is not one of the three people whom current and former CIA officials say interrogators were authorized to “waterboard”, a process whereby water is poured over a cloth covering a detainee’s face to create the sensation of drowning. Nor is he the fourth detainee whose waterboarding was documented by Human Rights Watch in 2012.

His descriptions, however, match those of other detainees who have alleged that they were subjected to unauthorized interrogation techniques using water. Human rights groups say the use of ice water in dousing and forced submersions is torture.

Khan’s account also includes details that match those of lower-level detainees who have described their own interrogations. Like other prisoners, Khan said he was held in complete darkness and isolated from other prisoners for long periods. To deprive him of sleep, his captors kept the lights on in his cell and blared loud music from Kiss and other American rock and rap groups.

He said that he was given unclean food and water that gave him diarrhea and that he was held in an outdoor cell and in cells with biting insects. Other prisoners later told him they were held in coffin-shaped boxes.

Khan is scheduled to be sentenced by a military judge in Guantánamo Bay by February. His lawyers, however, want his case moved to the US federal courts because, they said, federal law allows for fairer sentences for cooperating witnesses.

“He has made a decision to trust the US government and cooperate with the US government in order to try to atone for what he did,” said J Wells Dixon of the Center for Constitutional Rights. “But it is incumbent on the United States to treat him fairly.”

Katya Jestin, a former federal prosecutor who also represents Khan, said Khan remains committed to cooperating in the military commission system. But, she said, “from a broader criminal justice policy perspective, I would like to see him sentenced in US federal court. Federal judges have more experience in assessing the value of cooperation and incentivizing cooperation from others.”

See also here.

Will innocent Guantanamo prisoner be free at last?

This music video about the Guantanamo Bay camp is the song We Are America by Esperanza Spalding from the USA.

By Peter Lazenby in Britain:

Shaker Aamer could be weeks from freedom

Thursday 28th May 2015

Last Briton in Guantanamo gets scent of home

THE last British prisoner in the notorious Guantanamo Bay prison camp could be released within weeks, it was revealed yesterday.

Shaker Aamer, whose wife and four children live in Battersea in London, has been unlawfully held in the United States’ camp in Cuba for 14 years after being arrested in Afghanistan in 2001.

His release was authorised by US authorities seven years ago, but he has remained in Guantanamo.

A cross-party delegation of MPs including Jeremy Corbyn and David Davis travelled to Washington on Monday to lobby President Barack Obama to finally release him.

In a BBC interview, Mr Aamer’s solicitor Clive Stafford Smith said that US government officials have told him Mr Aamer is going to be released in June.

However, a Reprieve spokeswoman told the Star that Mr Stafford Smith “did caveat what he said quite heavily — there have been positive noises and we are optimistic, but there’s no confirmation or timeline or anything like that.”

Mr Obama pledged to close the camp, which still holds 57 prisoners, in his 2008 presidential campaign.

Mr Aamer has never been charged with any offence or stood trial. He has suffered ill health through his detention and treatment at the hands of his US military captors, and has never met his last-born child.

When he was arrested in 2001, US authorities alleged he had led a unit of Taliban fighters and met former al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.

But Mr Aamer has maintained throughout his imprisonment that he was in Afghanistan with his family doing charity work.

Mr Stafford Smith praised campaigners around the world, and particularly in Britain, for their actions demanding the release of Mr Aamer.

Earlier this month, as reported in the Morning Star, one volunteer spent 14 hours locked in a cage in Trafalgar Square — one hour for each year of Mr Aamer’s incarceration.

Mr Stafford Smith said: “So many people have done so many great things to help him and I think that’s had a great impact.”

Innocent prisoner Shaker Aamer still in Guantanamo

This music video says about itself:

3 August 2013

PJ Harvey has released a song to highlight the ongoing detention of the last British resident held inside the US prison at Guantánamo Bay.

The track, called Shaker Aamer was recorded by the Mercury prizewinning songwriter to help maintain pressure to have the 46-year-old, whose family live in south London, released back to Britain.

Aamer has been detained in Guantánamo for more than 11 years, despite being cleared for release in 2007, and remains imprisoned without charge or trial. He has a British wife and his four children — the youngest of whom he has never met — were all born in Britain. They live in Tooting, south London.

The British government has stated repeatedly that it wants him back in the UK and last week, under escalating international pressure, the US announced it is to restart transfers from the prison. Concerns remain, however, that Aamer might be forcibly sent to Saudi Arabia and imprisoned there instead of being reunited with his family in the UK.

Shaker Aamer

No water for three days.
I cannot sleep, or stay awake.

Four months hunger strike.
Am I dead, or am I alive?

With metal tubes we are force fed.
I honestly wish I was dead.

Strapped in the restraining chair.
Shaker Aamer, your friend.

In camp 5, eleven years.
Never Charged. Six years cleared.

They took away my one note pad,
and they refused to give it back.

I can’t think straight, I write, then stop.
Your friend, Shaker Aamer. Lost.

The guards just do what they’re told,
the doctors just do what they’re told.

Like an old car I’m rusting away.
Your friend, Shaker, Guantanamo Bay.

Don’t forget.

© 2013 Hothead Music Ltd.

By Jeremy Corbyn in Britain:

In 2001 Shaker Aamer and his family were happily living in Afghanistan. He was working on building girls’ schools and improving education.

September 2001 came, and with it war on Afghanistan waged by an enormous international coalition and many others.

The US offered enormous sums of money to anyone in Afghanistan who could bring in any foreign nationals who were deemed to be supporters of the Taliban. Shaker was a victim of this, and was sold by various bounty hunters and eventually ended up in Bagram base in Kabul where he was brutally treated, and then sometime later found himself in Guantanamo Bay.

He has never been charged with any offence and never been through any judicial process. He has now been in custody for 14 years.

He has a Saudi passport, but his wife and children are all British and he has permanent residence in Britain. He was cleared for release by the George Bush administration and later re-cleared for release by the Barack Obama presidency, but is still not able to return to his family.

In Guantanamo Bay there have been protests, hunger strikes and a worldwide campaign — 15 British prisoners in Guantanamo Bay have been returned home but Shaker remains in custody.

This issue has been raised by the wonderful Save Shaker Aamer campaign who have been marching, meeting, protesting and demonstrating outside Parliament for a long time and they deserve enormous credit.

Earlier this year John McDonnell formed an all-party parliamentary Shaker Aamer group which immediately attracted 40 MPs of all parties and in March placed a resolution before the House of Commons calling for his return to Britain.

This was agreed by the House of Commons. The Prime Minister has taken the issue up directly with President Obama, and William Hague also raised the subject with his counterpart, Hilary Clinton, when he was foreign secretary.

Early this week I was part of a delegation with two conservative MPs — Andrew Mitchell and David Davis — and one Labour colleague, Andy Slaughter, to lobby the US Senate on the case.

During meetings with Senators John McCain, Dianne Feinstein, Joe Manchin, Patrick Leahy and Dick Durbin, as well as in discussions with the State Department and the Senate Armed Services Committee we demanded Shaker’s release from Guantanamo Bay.

It’s past time this legal void should be closed, and Shaker allowed to return to Britain.

Without campaigning by ordinary people for justice for Shaker, there would never have been a resolution passed by the House of Commons to visit the Senate. It shows the value of protest.

See also here.

Poland will pay CIA torture victims

This video says about itself:

Poland admits to hosting CIA black site prisons on its soil after U.S. Senate torture report

10 December 2014

Poland has finally admitted it DID host an American black site prison after years of denying it just after a scathing report on CIA torture shed light on just how brutal the polices were. It’s the first acknowledgement by a foreign country of hosting such a site. A former Polish president says NATO was in a state of war at the time, and there was no question over allowing allies to use its territory.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Two win payout for CIA prison ordeal

Thursday 19th February 2015

POLAND’S Foreign Minister Grzegorz Schetyna said yesterday that his government would pay €230,000 (£170,000) in compensation to two men who were held in a secret CIA prison in the country.

The payout was ordered by the European Court of Human Rights, which rejected a Polish appeal against its original ruling.

The court ruled last July that Poland violated the rights of Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri and Abu Zubaydah by allowing the CIA to imprison them and by failing to stop “the torture and inhuman or degrading treatment” they suffered.

It was the first judgement by any court on the “extraordinary renditions” programme under which the US abducted individuals from across the world and held them without trial in secret locations.

Mr Nashiri and Mr Zubaydah are still held in the Guantanamo Bay concentration camp and Mr Schetyna queried whether the compensation could be paid to them directly.

On Tuesday, the Guardian revealed the existence of a secret interrogation facility operated by the Chicago Police Department, in what the newspaper called “the domestic equivalent of a CIA black site”: here.