Shaker Aamer, a suspected member of al-Qaeda and British resident held at Guantanamo Bay for more than 13 years, was released Friday, according to the British government.
Foreign Secretary Phillip Hammond said Aamer, 46, a Saudi national whose wife and children are British, departed the U.S. military base in Cuba and is on his way back to Britain.
He had been held there since 2002 but was never charged or put on trial. The British government had been seeking his release for nearly a decade.
Aamer was detained in Afghanistan in 2001 on suspicion of being a “close associate” of Osama bin Laden. He maintained he was just working for a charity in the country.
Last month, Aamer’s daughter Johina tweeted: “We can’t believe we might finally see out Dad after 14 years.” He has three other children.
Washington previously alleged that Aamer had ties to convicted terrorists.
Moazzam Begg, a former Guantanamo Bay detainee who is now the outreach director for CAGE, a British advocacy group, said in a statement that Shaker’s case “encapsulates everything wrong with the War on Terror: detention without charge or trial, torture with the complicity of the U.K. government, cruel and dehumanizing treatment, destruction of a young family and lack of a accountability for war crimes.”
CAGE said that 780 Muslim men aged 13-89 have been detained at the base since it opened in 2002. Of those, it said 122 detainees remain at the prison, with 54 cleared for release and 35 designated for “indefinite detention.”
President Obama first vowed to close the detention camp in 2008. He reiterated that commitment during his State of the Union Address in 2015.
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