Ex-Guantanamo guard says UK, US not honest about Aamer case

Ex-Guantanamo guard says UK, US not honest on former prisoner Shaker Aamer case, accusses countries of hypocrisy

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Supporters of Shaker Aamer, the last British prisoner at Guantanamo Bay, demonstrate outside Downing street in central London, October 24, 2015.

While the UK government claims the British premier personally worked hard to secure the release of ex-Guantanamo Bay detainee Shaker Aamer from his 13 long years of incarceration, a former guard at the notorious detention center has called out such claims as examples of hypocrisy.

Brandon Neely, who worked for six months as a guard at Guantanamo Bay in 2002, told Anadolu Agency via telephone that the UK government was not an honest broker in British resident Aamer’s release.

"UK and US, both are hypocrites. They condemn the countries with human rights abuses but at the same time they do as bad. I think Shaker was released because of all those people campaigned for years, went to streets, called the government to take action. I believe that it is people that got Shakir released more than anybody in the government," Neely said.  

Although Aamer was the first British resident to be taken to Guantanamo, he became the last UK prisoner to be released. He finally saw freedom on Oct. 30 after spending 13 years at the detention center without facing trial or any charges.

Lawyers of Aamer claim that the reason behind his long imprisonment was him witnessing UK agents being hands in glove with US agents in the abuse of detainees at Guantanamo prison.

Supporters of Aamer have strongly criticized the UK government, claiming the government had more power to secure his release, but chose instead to do nothing. During the years of his detention, UK government frequently said that UK officials and personally British Prime Minister David Cameron had been working hard to secure his release.

Neely, who was honorably discharged from the US armed forces in 2007, had been bound by nondisclosure agreements to not go public about what he saw at the detention center. However, he took the risk of breaking his silence over the issue and has since then appeared on several news outlets, speaking against the abuse of detainees and calling for the immediate closure of the prison.

In his interview with AA, Neely said that more efforts were now needed to secure the release of other detainees at Guantanamo.  

"There are a lot of people in Guantanamo from different countries, people that we have never heard of. People who have no public or government support behind them. There is a need to fight for their release as well," the former guard said.

Guantanamo Bay detention center is widely considered as a symbol of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and former American President George W. Bush’s policy on "war on terror" in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks in New York that left thousands of people dead.

Bush and Blair repeatedly claimed that Guantanamo was a necessity meant to supposedly defend the west’s democratic values.

US President Barack Obama, who has publicly called for shutting down the prison, has warned that the recent Paris attacks on Nov. 13 that left 130 people dead could once again delay the closure of Guantanamo.

"I guarantee you there will be strong resistance, because in the aftermath of Paris, I think that there is just a very strong tendency for us to get worked up around issues that don’t actually make us safer but make for good political soundbites," Obama had said, hinting at the challenges he faces at the US Congress over the issue.

Andy Worthington, a UK-based investigative journalist, said that the attitude of the US Congress regarding the Guantanamo issue is unforgivable.

"I don’t think Guantanamo will be closed sometime soon. There is a big struggle between Obama administration and the Congress. The Congress is trying very hard to make sure President Obama cannot close it, which is absolutely something unforgivable. It is a terrible thing when countries claim to respect the rule of law than abandon the rule of law, which is what happens in Guantanamo," Worthington said.

There are now 107 detainees being held at Guantanamo who are deprived of their rights.

"They essentially have no rights, as the former US President George Bush intended from the beginning. These people have been exposed to different torture techniques over the years. However, the very notion of holding people without a charge or trial, without knowledge of when they are ever going to be released, is the most terrible one," Worthington added.

In June, three major rights groups called on Attorney General Loretta Lynch to investigate the CIA for alleged torture and other rights violations of prisoners in the agency’s custody.

In a letter to Lynch, the American Civil Liberties Union, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International noted the December 2014 release of a scathing US Senate report that catalogued grisly details of the agency’s interrogation practices.

The more than 6,000-page report, of which a 500-page executive summary was made public, found that the CIA’s "enhanced interrogation techniques" under the George W. Bush administration were more brutal and extensive than initially thought.

Among the more cruel techniques, the report noted that the CIA employed the use of nudity, waterboarding -- which it said induces convulsions and vomiting, sleep deprivation for as long as 180 hours, and unnecessary "rectal hydration" or "rectal feeding."