Local civil rights activist ‘overwhelmed’ by Shaker Aamer release

Shaker Aamer has been released to join his family in Britain. Picture: AP
Shaker Aamer has been released to join his family in Britain. Picture: AP
0
Have your say

A CIVIL rights activist who campaigned to free the last British resident held in Guantanamo Bay has been “overwhelmed” by his release.

Andi Vincent wanted to show solidarity for Shaker Aamer who went on hunger strike in protest at his 13-year detention.

Edinburgh campaigner Andi Vincet was one of the many who campaigned for Shaker Aamer release from Guantanamo Bay. Picture: Contributed

Edinburgh campaigner Andi Vincet was one of the many who campaigned for Shaker Aamer release from Guantanamo Bay. Picture: Contributed

Moved by his plight, the composer, who lives in the southside of the Capital, joined celebrities and politicians in the Fast for Shaker campaign.

Pledging to fight on for the other innocent detainees, Mr Vincent said: “I’m absolutely overwhelmed that he has been freed but I am still going to campaign for all the other innocent detainees in Guantanamo. For an innocent human being to be locked up without evidence is unacceptable.

“I was fasting not only for Shaker but for all the others too. I hope they are all released soon and will be back home with their families.”

Mr Aamer was held in the Cuban military base amid claims he led a Taliban unit and had met Osama Bin Laden but was never tried for any offence.

I was fasting not only for Shaker but for the others too. I hope they are all released soon”

ANDI VINCENT

The 46-year-old arrived on a private plane at Biggin Hill Airport in south-east London ­yesterday.

After landing, the jet taxied into a hangar and the doors were closed before Mr Aamer could be seen.

A government spokesman said: “We can confirm that Shaker Aamer has been released from Guantanamo Bay and has returned to the UK.

“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 Obama’s commitment to closing the detention facility at Guantanamo.”

An ambulance believed to be carrying Mr Aamer left the main entrance of the airport just before 1.30pm, around half an hour after the jet landed.

Earlier, supporters said the father-of-four would require medical attention for health problems.

Mr Aamer’s return sparked suggestions he may be in line for taxpayer-funded compensation. In 2010, it was disclosed that the government had agreed a settlement of civil damages claims brought by detainees held at Guantanamo.

The payments, which were reported to run to millions of pounds, were subject to confidentiality agreements.

Mr Aamer’s father-in-law, Saeed Siddique, said: “It’s a delightful day.” He added that his release was a “surprise”.

Clive Stafford-Smith, of human rights group Reprieve, 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 to 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 obtained by the WikiLeaks website as a “close associate of Osama bin Laden” who fought in the battle of Tora Bora. But in 2007 the allegations against him were dropped.