Aamer, the last British Gitmo detainee, was captured by the Northern Alliance in 2001 and eventually turned over to the U.S. on allegations that he had worked as an Al Queda operative in London, associated with Osama bin Laden and led a band of Taliban fighters at Tora Bora. Over the next 13 years, the 46-year-old—who says he was in Afghanistan doing charity work—was subjected to waterboarding, force fed through a nasal feeding tube after coordinating a hunger strike, and held in solitary confinement for years. During that time, his six-by-eight-foot cell reportedly had 24 hour exposure to light and constant noise from a nearby generator.
He was never charged or given a trial even as the confinement took its toll—in a 2014 habeas corpus petition that was ultimately rejected, Aamer said he was suffering from “post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental and physical ailments.”
“We are, of course, delighted that Shaker is on his way back to his home and his family here in the UK. It is long, long past time. Shaker now needs to see a doctor, and then get to spend time alone with his family as soon as possible,” his attorney, Cori Crider, said in a statement.
His release had long been sought by David Cameron and the House of Commons, which passed a unanimous motion calling for his release, and in a July New York Times op-ed titled “Obama’s Slap in Britain’s Face,” four British MPs called his detainment “a particularly unforgivable omission.” And dozens of British celebrities organized a hunger strike in solidarity earlier this month:
Actors Maxine Peake and Mark Rylance, shadow chancellor John McDonnal, Conservative MP David Davis and comedian Frankie Boyle are among the dozens of high-profile names who have vowed to fast for 24-hours in protest at the alleged abuse suffered by Aamer while being held at the detention camp in Cuba.
“When I do get back the first thing I want is a cup of coffee,” Aamer said in a letter sent to the BBC earlier this month. “Then, I need a full medical check-up, somewhere totally confidential where they will finally respect my privacy. I am an old car that has not been to the garage for years.”