Freed Guantanamo Briton ‘must be given space’

Shaker Aamer, the last British resident held at Guantanamo Bay, should be allowed to enjoy being reunited his family now that he has returned home after his long-awaited release.

Shaker Aamer, the last British resident held at Guantanamo Bay
Shaker Aamer, the last British resident held at Guantanamo Bay

Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond has confirmed that the 46-year-old has been freed after 13 years in detention at the US military facility in Cuba and that he has returned to the UK.

After he touched down in a private jet in London yesterday, campaigners raised concerns that the father-of-four will be tagged or monitored by security services.

Lord Carlile, the former independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, told the Press Association: “The state cannot arbitrarily place restrictions upon him.

“It would be quite wrong to demonise him because there is no evidence to justify demonising him in 2015.

“He should now be given the space to spend time with his family and catch up on all he has missed while he has been detained.”

Another supporter Clive Stafford-Smith, of human rights group Reprieve, said Mr Aamer will not be detained or questioned after his return.

Confirming his return to the UK, a Government spokesman said: “It has been a long-standing Government policy to secure Mr Aamer’s return to the UK. We welcome his release and continue to support President (Barack) Obama’s commitment to closing the detention facility at Guantanamo.”

It is believed Mr Aamar was taken away by ambulance after he arrived back in the UK.

Mr Stafford-Smith said: “His first priority is health. He really is in terrible shape. He told me he is like an old car who hasn’t been to see a mechanic for a long time. He needs to get to a hospital.

“Then of course his second priority is to get with his family and rebuild that relationship that has been torn from him. He has never even met his youngest child.”

Mr Aamer was described in US military files as a “close associate of Osama bin Laden” who fought in the battle of Tora Bora. But in 2007 the allegations were dropped and he was cleared for release.

Despite a formal request by then-foreign secretary David Miliband, American authorities refused to allow him to go.

Mr Stafford-Smith told the BBC of Mr Aamer’s gratitude for the “tremendous support” he has been given, saying: “If there’s one thing Shaker wants me to say today it’s thank you to all those people.”

Mr Aamer, a Saudi national, has said he was originally seized by bounty hunters while working as a charity worker in Afghanistan in 2001.

He was handed over to US forces and in February 2002 he was transferred to Guantanamo Bay and accused of aiding al Qaida.

During his time in captivity, Mr Aamer’s lawyers said he was subjected to torture, with beatings and sleep deprivation, and held in solitary confinement for 360 days. In 2005, he lost half his body weight during a hunger strike.