Amnesty urges release of last Briton in Guantanamo

22nd November 2010, Comments 0 comments

Human rights group Amnesty International urged Britain and the United States Monday to free the last Briton held in the US-run Guantanamo Bay camp from what it described as "arbitrary detention".

Foreign Secretary William Hague raised the case of Shaker Aamer, who was born in Saudi Arabia but is a British resident, when he visited the United States last week, urging Washington to return him to Britain.

Amnesty International's UK director, Kate Allen, has now written to Hague calling for a clear timetable for his release after being held for almost nine years in the camp.

"In the absence of charges or a proper trial we now need to see Mr Hague and the US authorities agreeing a specific timetable for Shaker's release," she said in a statement.

"Dealing with what the government calls 'legacy issues' in the 'war on terror' must mean ensuring justice for Shaker. William Hague should make it a priority that he is returned to his family in Britain."

Allen said Aamer also alleged that he had been tortured "virtually under the noses of UK officials" and demanded his case be investigated.

Last week, Britain announced it had agreed compensation for former British detainees of Guantanamo Bay who alleged that British agents had been complicit in their torture by foreign security forces since the September 11 attacks.

The deal paved the way for an independent inquiry into the allegations, which is expected to begin by the end of the year.

The British government and the head of the foreign spy service MI6 insist they do not use torture.

"When it announced financial settlements for former Guantanamo detainees last week the government said it wanted to draw a line' under cases involving detention and alleged abuse overseas, yet Shaker Aamer is still languishing in a cell at Guantanamo," Allen said.

Hague said last week he had discussed Aamer's case with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton but gave no indication of when he might be released.

Aamer is married to a British national who lives with their four children in London. He was detained in Afghanistan by Afghan forces in late 2001 and has been held at Guantanamo since February 2002.

© 2010 AFP

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