'Outcry' if UK resident not out of Guantanamo soon: MPs

15th October 2015, Comments 0 comments

The US must honour its commitment to release the last British resident in Guantanamo Bay within 10 days or face an angry backlash, MPs and supporters said Thursday.

Shaker Aamer is on hunger strike at the military prison in Cuba and fears he may not survive long enough to see his family again, a campaign event outside the Houses of Parliament heard.

President Barack Obama's administration announced last month that Aamer would be freed after over 13 years but it gives Congress a month's notice before actually releasing prisoners.

This indicates that October 25 is the earliest date Aamer could be reunited with his wife and four children in London.

John McDonnell, finance spokesman for the opposition Labour party and a close ally of its new leftist leader Jeremy Corbyn, said there would be an uproar if Aamer was not back in Britain soon.

"I think we'll have all the leaders of the political parties recommitting themselves to putting as much pressure on the Obama administration as possible," McDonnell, who has long campaigned for Aamer's release, told AFP.

Labour's human rights spokesman Andy Slaughter added: "If he's not on a plane back here on the 25th, there will be an almighty outcry."

Slaughter added that there had been no information from the US about concrete arrangements for returning Aamer to Britain.

They spoke as campaigners gathered to encourage people to go on 24-hour fasts to support Aamer, who is protesting against alleged ongoing abuse at Guantanamo.

Andy Worthington, co-director of the We Stand With Shaker campaign, told the event: "He's fearful that he won't live to see his family again".

According to US military documents, Saudi-born Aamer was alleged to be a recruiter and financier for the Al-Qaeda militant network who worked for Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan.

But he has never been charged and his lawyers say he was volunteering for a charity in Afghanistan when he was captured in 2001.

His father-in-law Saeed Siddique said the family had not decided whether to take legal action over his detention.

"Money does not matter, what matters is his freedom," he told AFP. "He should be freed as soon as possible."

© 2015 AFP

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