POLITICS

Tony Blair 'Must Have Known' About US torture of Guantanamo Bay Prisoner Shaker Aamer, Claims Alex Salmond

13/12/2015 10:33 GMT | Updated 13/12/2015 10:59 GMT
BBC

Tony Blair and Jack Straw “must have known” about the torture of British prisoner Shaker Aamer by the United States, the SNP’s Alex Salmond claimed today.

In October, Mr Aamer became the final Briton to be freed from Guantanamo Bay where he was held for 13 years without trial.

He told today’s Mail on Sunday a British intelligence officer was present at the time he allegedly had had head banged against a wall at the US Bagram air base in Afghanistan in 2002.

Speaking on The Andrew Marr Show on BBC 1 this morning, Mr Salmond said the revelation meant then-Prime Minister Tony Blair and then-Foreign Secretary Jack Straw had questions to answer.

He said: “British officials, intelligence officers…came into Bagram airbase on the same flight as the then-Prime Minister Tony Blair, and so the not unreasonable allegation that Shaker Aamer makes is that both the Prime Minister Tony Blair and the then-Home Secretary Jack Straw [sic] must have known, not just about his illegal abduction, but also about his torture at the hands of the US authorities.

“As with so many things Messrs Blair and Straw have a great deal to answer for and they have to be asked the straight question: ‘How can they possibly not have known about the fate befallen a British citizen?’

“Governments have many responsibilities but the prime responsibility of all governments is to keep their own citizens safe from harm and governments are not meant to collaborate in the illegal abduction and then the torture of one of our own citizens. Both the then-Prime Minister and Home Secretary [sic] have to face up and tell us exactly what they knew and when they knew it.”

In the Mail on Sunday interview, Mr Aamer claimed some 200 people interrogated him during his time in prison and he was subject to torture by methods including sleep deprivation.

The campaign to free Mr Aamer, who is a Saudi-national with British residence, drew support from across the political spectrum, with the Daily Mail, Mail on Sunday and the Guardian all calling for his release.

This morning, Mr Salmond suggested one of the reasons it took so long to free Mr Aamer may have been because of the allegations of torture in Afghanistan in 2002.

He said: “One of the suspicions that those campaigning for his release have had is that there has to be a reason for him not being released despite being cleared for release twice over that period.

“It’s always been centred over the revelations he would have about what’s been going on in Guantanamo Bay, it now appears a reason might have been about what has gone on in January 2002 at Bagram airbase”

Responding to the allegations made by Mr Aamer in the Mail on Sunday, a Foreign Office spokesman said: "The UK Government stands firmly against torture and cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment or punishment.

"We do not participate in, solicit, encourage or condone it for any purpose. Neither does the UK make use of any so-called enhanced interrogation techniques. We have consistently made clear our absolute opposition to such behaviour and our determination to combat it wherever and whenever it occurs."