Some suggest the reason he has been held so long at Guantanamo is because he may have witnessed the torture of others
LONDON: Shaker Aamer, the last British resident held in Guantanamo Bay who is due to be freed in weeks, has said he is on hunger strike and may not make it out alive, the Mail on Sunday reported.
The newspaper said Aamer, speaking for the first time since the announcement last month that he would be released, also claimed he was still being subjected to physical abuse.
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“I know there are people who do not want me ever to see the sun again,” Aamer was quoted as saying in the transcript of a conversation with his British lawyer, Clive Stafford Smith.
“It means nothing that they have signed papers, as anything can happen before I get out. So if I die, it will be the full responsibility of the Americans,” the 46-year-old was quoted as saying.
Aamer told his lawyer that he had gone on hunger strike in a protest at an alleged assault by Guantanamo guards to force him to give blood samples.
Aamer, a Saudi citizen with permanent British residency, was captured in Tora Bora in eastern Afghanistan in December 2001 and has been in Guantanamo since 2002.
He is alleged to have been a key British-based recruiter and financier for the al Qaeda militant network and purportedly worked for Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan, according to US military documents.
He has categorically denied this, saying that he was only volunteering for a charity in Afghanistan at the time.
The Mail on Sunday, which has campaigned for Aamer’s release, also said that in a statement to British police two years ago he detailed abuses he had suffered and witnessed.
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Some supporters suggest the reason he has been held so long at Guantanamo is because he may have witnessed the torture of others.
“It may be that no one has suffered more at Guantanamo than Shaker Aamer, because he stood up for his rights and the rights of others — and for this he has constantly been punished,” Stafford Smith told the paper.
Stafford Smith has said he expects Aamer to be released at the end of this month.
Aamer was born in Saudi Arabia in December 1968 and lived in the United States before settling in Britain, where he married and became a resident in 1996.
He and his wife have four children who live in London. The youngest was born after he was taken into detention.