Shaker Aamer is a Saudi national who arrived in the UK in 1996. He was given permission to remain in the UK indefinitely. That was of course prior to 9/11. For the last 11 years his family have remained in the UK but he has been a prisoner at Guantanamo Bay, the infamous US terrorist prison also known as Gitmo.
Calling him a prisoner sort of implies a trial, verdict and sentence or at least the promise of a trial. Yet here we are all those years later with no such legal action forthcoming.
There have been online efforts for sometime aimed at freeing this man. The latest news today is that he is to sue the UK for defamation of character. He joins a long line of foreign nationals who have sued the UK. Only yesterday we reported on a rendition case which cost the UK £2.2mil in damages but cost the individual a great deal more.
The legal action that is to be launched will include recently declassified information. It will be launched today, Friday, December 14, 2012.
When Mr Aamer was arrested he was in Afghanistan. It was alleged that he was "involved in fighting at Tora Bora, an al-Qaeda stronghold targeted by the Americans as they hunted Osama Bin Laden. Mr Aamer denies this and says he was engaged in charity work."
What will be shocking to many, if it is proved correct, is the accusation that British intelligance, that is MI5 and MI6 personnel, supplied knowingly false information to the US authorities.
Whilst being held in Afghanistan Mr Aamer was allegedly "subjected to cold water treatment, hog tying [and] sleep deprivation". There are also allegations of brutality carried out in the presence of British Intelligence officers.
You can read more about the allegations at the BBC here.
The US authorities appear to believe that Mr Aamer is or was a member of an al Qaeda linked terrorist organsitaion and that he was a " fully paid up member", shall we say. If that is the case the man should be tried accordingly in a court of law.
This ongoing abandonement of the law has to be a grave cause for concern. We can hardly scream from the roof tops should one of our people be treat in such a manner. We have after all led by example. Yes it can take time to gather evidence and "extract" confessions but there has to be a timescale. Look at the Image of the man and his young children. Presumably they are teenagers now. Will the Western treatment of their father help make them law abiding respectful Western citizens? Hardly.
You can make as many excuses about how 9/11 was a different scenario but none of it excuses some of the actions coming to light now. Is Mr Aamer simply going to be held forever without trial? Perhaps the idea is that in the end he will admit to something in order to be released. Would it suit the authorites better if he died? Harsh but it has to be said.
Whatever the reason his case is a blight on the supposed democracy we are told the West is fighting for around the world.
If as the West appears to believe Mr Aamer is or was, "a UK-based al-Qaeda cell" and a close associate of Bin Laden who had "shown a willingness to become a martyr for his cause"." then legally do something about it. If there is no evidence then he could be just one of perhaps many who have a hatred of the West. Will his case prevent others following suit?
If he was in fact an innocent man set up by the authorities then what can we say.
According to the BBC report, "The legal action is being brought by the legal charity Reprieve and names both Foreign Secretary William Hague and Home Secretary Theresa May, whose departments supervise MI6 and MI5 respectively, and it will be launched at a press conference later on Friday"
Updates will follow when available.
In February 2012 The UK Independent carried a report in which it published letters sent from Mr Aamer to his family. It also contained the following timeline of events:
Timeline: a decade without justice
December 1968: Born in Medina, Saudi Arabia.
1996: Moves to London and works as an Arabic translator for a firm of solicitors. Marries a British citizen and is eventually granted residency.
June 2001: Goes to Kabul to volunteer for an Islamic charity.
October 2001: US invasion of Afghanistan begins.
November 2001: Captured by the Northern Alliance and eventually handed to the Americans. Claims subsequently he was badly physically abused at Bagram, in the presence of a British intelligence officer.
February 2002: Brought to Guantanamo Bay, but is not charged with a crime, a situation which has not changed.
September 2005: Organises hunger strike among inmates and is placed in solitary confinement.
June 2006: Claims he was beaten for hours and asphyxiated during an interrogation on the same day three other Guantanamo inmates died.
June 2007: Cleared for release when the Bush administration acknowledges it has no evidence against him but remains interned.
February 2009: Becomes the last British citizen or resident at the camp when Binyam Mohamed is repatriated.
January 2012: The Independent reveals the UK Government has spent £274,345 fighting Aamer in court, including preventing his lawyers viewing evidence that may prove his innocence and end more than a decade in US custody.