By a New Worker correspondent
Human rights activists gathered outside Downing Street last Saturday to demand the release of Shaker Aamer, who has spent nine years in the US concentration camp in Guantánamo Bay without charge or trial for any offence. Aamer, a Saudi Arabian married to a British Muslim and living in Battersea, was working for an Islamic charity in Afghanistan when the Americans invaded in 2001. He was picked up as an alleged supporter of Al Qaida and eventually taken to the notorious US detention camp where he has spent the past nine years and where, his supporters say, he has suffered torture and solitary confinement at the hands of his captors.
The previous Labour government and the current Con-Dem coalition have stated that they have pressed for his release, but although they have done so in public, in private they are both alleged to have encouraged the US government to keep him in captivity. And although President Obama promised to shut down Guantánamo, he has failed to do so and173 prisoners, including Aamer remain incarcerated.
The vigil outside Downing Street was called by the Save Shaker Aamer Campaign which marked last week's anniversary of his illegal imprisonment by writing to Prime Minister David Cameron, Barack Obama in the White House and religious leaders calling for them to exert their influence to secure his release. Kate Hudson of CND and London Green MEP Jean Lambert joined the protest before delivering a letter calling on the government to take urgent action to return Aamer to his family.