THE BLOG
23/10/2015 12:23 BST | Updated 23/10/2016 06:12 BST

Shaker Aamer and Our Responsibility

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In December 2001, Shaker Aamer was kidnapped by bounty hunters in Afghanistan. Two months later, he was handed over to US troops, and on Valentine's Day 2002, he was imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay.

Realising he might be gone a long time, he offered to let his wife Zin divorce him. She refused, saying she would wait for him.

She is still waiting.

Their daughter, Johina, was four when he was kidnapped and detained. She is now 17. He has never even met the youngest of their four children, his son, Faris.

Had Shaker actually been found guilty of any crime in a court of law, Zin, Johina, Faris' and the rest of Shaker's family could count themselves extraordinarily unfortunate.

But the fact that he has not even been charged with any wrongdoing makes his and their experience an outrage.

A large part of the so-called 'evidence' against Shaker came from the testimony of a man who has since 2004 been described by US military officials as 'extremely untrustworthy... trusting him strains the imagination because he provided information on at least 60 other detainees'.

Shaker's lawyer, Clive Stafford Smith of Reprieve, said that the claims against his client: 'would not stand up in court,' and that the man who provided much of the 'evidence' was found by American judges to be 'utterly incredible', that the man had been tortured, and 'promised all sorts of things.'

Two United States administrations appear to have agreed: George W Bush's government admitted in 2007 that it had 'no evidence' against him, and approved him for release. In 2009, Barack Obama's administration repeated the release approval.

So not only has Shaker been captured and held for almost 14 years without charge, he has spent eight years at Guantanamo Bay since the government which detained him admitted it had no evidence against him.

But there's more.

During his nearly 14 year-incarceration, Shaker has experienced some of the worst treatment imaginable.

His lawyers report that he had been held in solitary confinement for 360 consecutive days in 2005-6, and allege that he had been beaten, exposed to extreme temperatures and deprived of sleep.

Five years later - four years after the US government first agreed he should have been released - another of his lawyers, Brent Mickum, reported Shaker had been beaten before each of their meetings.

Shaker has responded heroically to his ordeal, helping to organise other inmates at Guantanamo Bay to attempt to improve their treatment. He has taken part in hunger strikes and has lost around 40 per cent of his body weight, literally giving his all to attempt to highlight the appalling mistreatment he and others at Guantanamo have experienced.

On 25th September, the US government announced it would release Shaker to the UK within 30 days. But although we are optimistic, we have heard promises to release him before.

That's why I and 231 others - including Clive Stafford Smith and my fellow parliamentarian and Green Party member Caroline Lucas, MP - have pledged a day's fast each, in a campaign which aims to continue until Shaker is returned to the UK, and his family.

Those responsible for Shaker's torture and wrongful imprisonment have made a mockery of the behaviour we expect from so-called 'civilised society', and are a shameful example of the failure of those we trust to uphold national and international law.

The thought of his coming home and being reunited with his family is fantastic. But we must also hear from him first-hand about what he experienced at Guantanamo Bay - if he can stand to tell us.

We need to know exactly what the US government - and the UK government, which has been complicit in the 'rendering' of British and other nationals to Guantanamo - has done, so we can hold them to account.

For all of us, the fight for justice for Shaker, his wife and children, is far from over.

Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb, Green Party member of the House of Lords, fasted for Shaker on 22nd October.

Caroline Lucas, Green Party MP for Brighton Pavilion, fasted on October 21st.