The last British resident to be held at the US prison camp in Guantanamo Bay has told media that British security officers witnessed him being tortured by American soldiers at Bagram air base in Afghanistan. Shaker Aamer, a Saudi national married to a Briton, was suspected by US authorities of being an Islamist militant associated with al-Qaeda but was never charged with any crime. He was released in October 2015 after 13 years detention at Guantanamo and has returned to Britain.
In an interview with the Mail on Sunday newspaper, Aamer said he was held in a cage at Bagram before his transfer to Guantanamo, and that his American interrogators had beaten him and deprived him of sleep. Aamer said a British officer, who he believed arrived at the base on a plane with then Prime Minister Tony Blair, was present in the room during the interrogation and did not intervene. Speaking to ITV News on 13 December, Aamer said the British government knew he was being tortured.
"They know all that, because... when I lived here I weighed 250lb. When I saw John, the British guy, the first thing he said to me: 'You look like a ghost.' And I'm sure if he's watching this, he'll remember that," he said.
When asked if there should be an inquiry into the intelligence services in Britain, Aamer answered: "Indeed, definitely."
"Because for you to understand what happened, to know the truth, you have to inquire, you have to ask questions," he added.
A spokeswoman for the British government said it did not participate in or condone torture and was determined to combat it "wherever and whenever it occurs". After being released from Guantanamo, Aamer came home virtually a stranger to his children.
"It's 14 years, you know. My eldest daughter she was four and a half, you know? Just a stranger, you know, for them I am a stranger, I'm a total stranger," he said.