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    US Drags Feet on Release of Gitmo Prisoners Held Despite Lack of Evidence

    US Drags Feet on Release of Gitmo Prisoners Held Despite Lack of Evidence

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    Shaker Aamer, a man who has spent 13 years indefinitely detained at Guantanamo Bay without any charge is finally set to be released in June along with up to ten other prisoners. It comes alongside news that, despite being granted bail, Omar Khadr is still waiting for his release; a hearing is scheduled for May 5th to work out the conditions.

    Shaker Aamer, 48, is a British citizen. Detained in 2001 in Afghanistan while doing volunteer work for an Islamic charity, Aamer and his representatives have always maintained the work he was doing was peaceful.

    After being detained, Aamer alleges that he was moved to a US-operated black site and tortured until he confessed.  Following that confession he was moved to Guantanamo Bay in 2002.

    The Bush administration admitted they had no evidence against Aamer, and any confessions he gave were obtained falsely through torture.  He’s a father of four and has never met his youngest child. He was cleared for release in 2007.

    Despite having never been charged with any crime, and being cleared for release for 8 years, Aamer was held in solitary confinement for 22 hours a day, and force-fed through his nose during hunger strikes.

    “Please torture me in the old way… Here they destroy people mentally and physically without leaving marks,” Aamer wrote in a letter to the Independent in 2012.

    “We don’t torture children.”

    Omar Khadr, a Toronto native, has been in custody since 2002, having been arrested when he was only 15 years old. He was accused of throwing a grenade in Afghanistan that killed an American soldier, and was subsequently imprisoned at Bagram Prison, then transferred to Guantanamo Bay, where supporters say interrogators forced a false confession and plea deal through eight years of torture.  He has since recanted his confession.

    Khadr was not transferred back to Canada until 2012, after being sentenced to eight years in prison in 2010 by an American military tribunal.

    "We had a Canadian government that allowed Omar Khadr to be in Guantanamo Bay," Khadr's Edmonton lawyer, Dennis Edney, stated at an appeal hearing, the CBC reported. “When the government knows there's not one single piece of evidence that he threw a hand grenade. And then he faces the rest of his life in Guantanamo Bay and is forced to take a plea bargain.”

    "We don't torture children," Edney continued, citing the Canadian government, "and we don't use the evidence derived from torture."

    On the day of the alleged killing of the US soldier, Special Forces had been bombarding the place where he was staying with his family for four hours.  Khadr was found lying in the rubble, unarmed, with shrapnel in his eye.  Soldiers later spoke of being able to see his heart beating due to the large wounds in his chest.

    Leaked documents from the Department of Defense Criminal Investigation Task Force later showed that the field report on the incident had been doctored, some believe to hide that the officer who Khadr is accused of killing actually died from friendly fire.

    Upon his capture, Khadr was not recognized as a child soldier and protected by the United Nations. Instead, both the US’ and Canada’s supreme courts have confirmed that both countries violated Omar Khadr’s rights.

    “The torture of Omar included prolonged sleep deprivation, beating, suspension from his wrists while his wounds were still fresh, threats of gang rape, hooding, intimidation by dogs, forced nakedness, body cavity searches, forced feeding, short-shackling in stress positions, prolonged solitary confinement, cell conditions of extreme cold, noise, constant light and withholding of medical treatment,” the supporters’ group Free Omar states on their website.

    He was convicted of a war crime, despite a lack of evidence he participated in one.  There is however, evidence that Khadr was himself a victim of an internationally recognized war crime: as the severely teenager lay curled up in a fetal position on the ground, he was shot in the back by a US Special Forces soldier.

    King's University College has offered Khadr the opportunity to enroll as a student, and his lawyer has offered to allow Khadr to live with him and his family following his release.

    He says he looks forward to meeting his youngest child and reuniting with his family.  The US has not yet announced what country Aamer will be released to.

    There are currently 122 prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay, 57 of which have been cleared for release.  

    The cost of operating Guantanamo is over $150,000,000 a year, or over $900,000 per detainee annually, over 30 times the cost of housing an inmate in a US prison.

    Nine men have already died within the prison’s walls while being held indefinitely, despite the Obama administration’s pledge to close Gitmo more than six years ago.

    “The detention facilities at Guantánamo for individuals covered by this order shall be closed as soon as practicable, and no later than 1 year from the date of this order,” read the order Obama signed on Jan. 22, 2009.

    Related:

    US Helps Capture Former Gitmo Detainee in Uganda - State Department
    Obama Must Accelerate Pace of Gitmo Transfers - Human Rights First
    Obama: I Should Have Closed Gitmo ‘On the First Day’
    Supreme Court Allowed US to Torture Gitmo Prisoners 'With Impunity'
    Former Taliban Prisoner, Thrown in Gitmo by Pentagon, Banned From Suing US
    Gitmo Chronicles
    Tags:
    Prison Camp, Indefinite Detention, Guantanamo Bay, Gitmo, Military, Omar Khadr, Shaker Aamer, Canada, Cuba
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