Hopes rise for Guantanamo's last UK inmate

UK police to interview Shaker Aamer in Cuba, as his family send appeals to President Obama

Scotland Yard detectives are set to fly to Cuba to interview the last UK resident still held in Guantanamo Bay over claims that he was tortured in the presence of British secret service agents.

News of the development in the case of Shaker Aamer, detained for nearly 11 years by the US despite never having been charged with any offence, came as his children spoke to national media for the first time about their family's plight.

Mr Aamer asserts that he was tortured, including having his head repeatedly bashed against a wall, by US investigators in the presence of British spies at Bagram, Afghanistan. He also says the British agents were aware of his torture in Guantanamo, which involved beatings and long periods in solitary confinement. This treatment continues, he says, despite at least three visits from British secret service personnel.

He will be interviewed in the next couple of weeks, The Independent on Sunday has learnt, by a team from the Metropolitan Police, who will also question him in relation to the claims by a former detainee, Binyam Mohamed, that he too was tortured.

Mr Aamer, a UK resident born in Saudi Arabia, says he took his British wife and family to Afghanistan to do charity work in 2001. He sent his family back home just before US forces invaded the country in the same year. He was picked up by locals who sold him to the US for a reported sum of $5,000 (£2,560) in November 2001 and was transferred to Guantanamo in February 2002. The US claims he is a security threat, despite military tribunals having twice cleared him for transfer out of the Cuban camp.

Barack Obama vowed to close the camp at Guantanamo within a year after becoming President in 2008, but has found progress hampered by Congress. But a known clemency period immediately after an election has rekindled hopes for a renewed focus on Mr Aamer's case.

In the meantime, Mr Aamer's wife and four children wait for his return. At their south London home, the family say that for years the children were told their father was "helping at school" to explain his absence. The children have no memories of their father, but they speak to him on Skype every few months, with the help of the Red Cross.

Faris, the youngest, a shy 10-year-old, has never met his dad. He says when he spoke to his father for the first time, he thought "he was very funny". The children have written letters to President Obama in the hope that their voices would be heard after his re-election. "My dad is still in prison, and even though he has been cleared for release he's been tortured," Michael, 13, wrote. "I find it very difficult without my dad. I can feel how hard it is for my mum." Mr Aamer's daughter, Johina, 15, added: "Why don't you imagine being locked up for 11 years of your life and possibly more years to come. Try imagining being treated like a circus animal in a cage and being taken away from your home and everyone you love."

News of Mr Aamer's planned interview with police came as lawyers prepared to file a motion saying his indefinite detention without being produced in court amounts to torture. Irene Nembhard, of Birnberg Peirce and Partners, said: "That is established in international law. The Brits should be saying that his detention amounts to torture and if he is not released they should make a complaint under the United Nations Convention against Torture. It is patently clear British diplomacy has failed. Consequently, they have to think of something else to do."

A Foreign Office spokesman said it could not comment on on-going legal proceedings, but the case remained a high priority. "We want him released and returned to the UK as a matter of urgency", he said. "However, any decision regarding Mr Aamer's release ultimately remains in the hands of the US government."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
Attenborough with the primates
tvWhy BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
News
Campbell: ‘Sometimes you have to be economical with the truth’
newsFormer spin doctor says MPs should study tactics of leading sports figures like José Mourinho
Sport
football
Life and Style
Agretti is often compared to its relative, samphire, though is closer in taste to spinach
food + drink
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
Kelly Osbourne will play a flight attendant in Sharknado 2
people
News
Down-to-earth: Winstone isn't one for considering his 'legacy'
people
News
The dress can be seen in different colours
i100
Sport
Wes Brown is sent-off
football
Voices
Lance Corporal Joshua Leakey VC
voicesBeware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
Life and Style
Alexander McQueen's AW 2009/10 collection during Paris Fashion Week
fashionMeet the collaborators who helped create the late designer’s notorious spectacles
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Bookkeeper / Office Co-ordinator

£9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This role is based within a small family run ...

Recruitment Genius: Designer - Print & Digital

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Design and marketing agenc...

Recruitment Genius: Quantity Surveyor

£46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This property investment firm are lookin...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales / Telemarketing Executive - OTE £30k / £35k plus

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company specialises provid...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003
Barbara Woodward: Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with the growing economic superpower

Our woman in Beijing builds a new relationship

Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with growing economic power
Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer. But the only British soldier to be awarded the Victoria Cross in Afghanistan has both

Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer

Beware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
Alexander McQueen: The catwalk was a stage for the designer's astonishing and troubling vision

Alexander McQueen's astonishing vision

Ahead of a major retrospective, Alexander Fury talks to the collaborators who helped create the late designer's notorious spectacle
New BBC series savours half a century of food in Britain, from Vesta curries to nouvelle cuisine

Dinner through the decades

A new BBC series challenged Brandon Robshaw and his family to eat their way from the 1950s to the 1990s
Philippa Perry interview: The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course

Philippa Perry interview

The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef recreates the exoticism of the Indonesian stir-fry

Bill Granger's Indonesian stir-fry recipes

Our chef was inspired by the south-east Asian cuisine he encountered as a teenager
Chelsea vs Tottenham: Harry Kane was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope

Harry Kane interview

The striker was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope
The Last Word: For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?

Michael Calvin's Last Word

For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?
HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?