Gitmo inmate drops torture claims over UK spy ‘backstabbing’
Shaker Aamer hopes that move to drop the charges could pave the way for his return to the UK, his lawyer says
Shaker Aamer, the last Briton held in Guantanamo Bay, withdrew his torture case against British interrogators this week in order to put an end to “UK secret service backstabbing,” his lawyer Clive Stafford Smith told Al Arabiya News on Wednesday.
Aamer told Al Arabiya News in December that “one reason” for his extenuated detention is that “some of the [British] government’s branches... think that my return to the UK is going to be troublesome to them.”
Aamer, who has been imprisoned at the American naval base in Cuba for 12 years, says British MI6 officers were present when U.S. soldiers allegedly tortured him during interrogation in Afghanistan in 2001, when he was captured.
While he is not dropping the claim that he was tortured, Aamer no longer wants British authorities to probe the case, which has been under investigation by Scotland Yard for the past three years.
“Shaker doesn’t want individual agents to be investigated and prosecuted for simply following orders from those at the top of the British government,” Smith said.
“He wants to remove any obstacles that he can to that happening as soon as possible, and if UK secret service agents are going to stop stabbing him in the back as a result of him dropping the torture investigation, then so be it.”
According to documents published in the Guantanamo Bay files leak, the U.S. military Joint Task Force on Guantanamo believed in Nov. 2007 that Aamer had led a unit of fighters in Afghanistan.
However, he has never been charged with any wrongdoing or gone to trial.
Smith said he hopes that Aamer’s move to drop the charges could pave the way for his return to the UK.
“All Shaker wants is to go home to his family - to his youngest son whom he has never met - in London, where he belongs.”
However, Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. J. Todd Breasseale dismissed the move by Aamer to withdraw his allegations.
“Torture is an attention-getting word, dutifully relayed as fact by advocacy groups and attorneys who represent such absurd claims by the detainees they represent,” said Breasseale.
“That any detainee might make such claims and then withdraw them, while interesting, is functionally irrelevant,” he added.
“Given the incredible scrutiny in and awareness of the U.S. military’s detention operations... claims of torture simply have no basis in reality.
“However, I can’t speculate on the independent judicial and or review processes for determining continued Law of War detention.”