23rd February 2009
Cageprisoners today welcomes the return of Binyam Mohammed- a British resident unlawfully detained in Guantanamo Bay for the last seven years. The UK government has used its relationship with the US to bring him home and must now do so for the remaining British residents, amongst them Shaker Aamer. Spokesman for Cageprisoners, Moazzam Begg, said,
“The news of Binyam Mohmmed’s return has been met with a great sense of relief and jubilation. It has taken nearly five years but his ordeal finally over. However, Binyam is not the last British resident in Guantanamo. Shaker Aamer – a long-term London resident – has been held in Guantanamo since early 2002. He has not seen his British family since then – including his youngest son – despite the British government’s written assurance to his family that they are actively seeking his return. It is high time this family was reunited.”
Aamer’s family have been campaigning for his release and the years of detention without charge have taken its toll on the family. Aamer’s eldest child, Johaina Aamer said, in a statement to Cageprisoners on the eve of Binyam’s release from Guantanamo,
“My name is Johina Aamer. I am 11 years old. I haven’t seen my Dad for more than seven years. My Dad is a British resident who hasn’t come out of Guantanamo yet. My little brother, Faris Amer, is seven and he’s never seen his own father. We have also had lots of Eid festivals without our dad which is not the same as him being here. We would not like to miss any more Eids. We want our Dad to pick us up from school and take us to the park like all other Dads. I am happy for Binyam Mohamed to be coming home but please don’t forget my Dad.”
Cageprisoners calls on the government to press for the immediate repatriation of the remaining British residents. The release of Binyam Mohammed and other British residents has already demonstrated that it has the power to do so.
Note for Editors:
Three prisoners with British connections remain in Guantánamo Bay.
All have been cleared for release.
Shaker Aamer, a British resident, whose wife and children are British nationals living in London, remains in solitary confinement – where he has been since 2005. A committed family man, he has never seen his youngest child and wants nothing more than to be a father again.
Ahmed Belbacha is an Algerian national and former British resident in his seventh year of imprisonment without charge. From the US military’s perspective, he could leave Guantánamo tomorrow. But Ahmed so fears what awaits him in Algeria that he has opted to wait in Guantánamo-even in Camp Six, the prison’s most grim isolation wing-until another country offers him refuge.
Farhi Saeed bin Mohammed is an Algerian citizen who left Algeria to seek freedom and greater economic opportunities in Europe and was captured and sold to U.S. soldiers in Pakistan after fleeing from Afghanistan. A peaceful and religious man, Farhi Saeed has lived in France, Italy, and the U.K. and would like to return to Europe to work after he is released from Guantánamo. He was cleared for transfer in 2007.
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