Guantanamo: Downing Street letter hand-in for UK prisoner

Amnesty International is marking the eighth 'anniversary' of US detentions at Guantanamo Bay (11 January) with the hand-in of a letter to Prime Minister Gordon Brown from the daughter of Shaker Aamer, a UK resident still held at the camp.

The letter, from 12-year-old Johina, who is the eldest of Mr Shaker's four young children, is asking for the Prime Minister to step up efforts to secure the release of Shaker Aamer (41) who has been held at the camp since February 2002.

Johina will be accompanied by Baroness Helena Kennedy, Kate Allen (Director, Amnesty International UK), Vanessa Redgrave (actress), Kate Hudson (Chair, CND), Gareth Peirce (lawyer for the family) and Victoria Brittain (writer and friend of Johina's mother).
Shaker Aamer was cleared for release from Guantanamo Bay in 2007, yet despite UK government efforts to secure Mr Aamer's freedom his release has reportedly been blocked by the US authorities. There are concerns that Mr Aamer's release is being delayed as 'punishment' for his role in acting as a representative of fellow detainees at the camp.

The letter will be handed in at 2pm, ahead of a meeting in the House of Commons (Jubilee Room, 4pm). There will be an opportunity to interview Moazzam Begg, director of Cageprisoners and close friend of Mr Aamer and his family) and other campaigners. In addition, Brent Mickum, Mr Aamer's US lawyer, is flying in for the meeting and will be available for interview. Please note: Johina Aamer will not be available for interview.

Amnesty International has been calling for the UK government to step up efforts to secure the release - or fair trial - of both Shaker Aamer and another man Ahmed Belbacha (40), who has also been held at Guantanamo since February 2002.

Mr Shaker is a Saudi national with a British wife and his four children are all British. Mr Belbacha is an Algerian national, formerly resident in the UK. There are fears that both Aamer and Belbacha could face detention without charge or even torture if forcibly returned to Saudi Arabia and Algeria.

SOURCE: Amnesty UK