Press

UPDATE 30 October 2015: Shaker Aamer has been freed from Guantánamo and is back with his family in the UK. We did it! Thanks to everyone who fasted or pledged to fast on his behalf. Please see his statement on the We Stand With Shaker website! And please note that there is no longer any need for anyone to fast or to pledge to fast.

UPDATE 11 November: Please visit the We Stand With Shaker website for a photo Shaker sent to us and a message thanking all his supporters — including those who fasted for him!

See coverage of the launch of the campaign in the Daily Mail.

Also see ITV News’ coverage, the Press Association (in the Guardian), the Belfast Telegraph and the Express & Star. Sky News also covered the story, and see Fast For Shaker co-founder Andy Worthington’s piece in Eurasia Review (via his own site).

Also see RT’s coverage, picking up on Twitter activity, and comedian Sara Pascoe’s article for the Guardian, ‘​Why I’m fasting for ​Shaker Aamer’, with a great opening paragraph as Sara speaks to an imagined, composite friend:

“But he must have done something wrong,” he responds when I tell him what has happened to Shaker Aamer. “That couldn’t happen to an innocent British person.”

On 13 October, Andy Worthington appeared on the Victoria Derbyshire Show on BBC2, talking to Joanna Gosling about the campaign. See a clip on the show’s Twitter feed, and see the entire show here on iPlayer (for the next month) — the feature on Shaker begins at 36:15 and ends at 43:45.

Also see local coverage in the Wandsworth Guardian (Shaker’s family lives in the borough), and South West Londoner. And see here for coverage of the involvement in the fast of Tania Mathias MP. Liberal Democrat Voice also covered MP Tom Brake’s decision to join the fast.

On 14 October, Andy Worthington appeared on London Live, discussing the campaign and the launch and Shaker’s family:

On the day of the launch, news agency AFP reported on the event, quoting John McDonnell MP as saying “there would be an uproar if Aamer was not back in Britain soon,” as AFP put it. McDonnell said, “I think we’ll have all the leaders of the political parties recommitting themselves to putting as much pressure on the Obama administration as possible.” His colleague Andy Slaughter said, “If he’s not on a plane back here on the 25th, there will be an almighty outcry.” There was also a report in the Morning Star.

RT also covered the event, and made an interview with John McDonnell MP available on YouTube, which is cross-posted below:

Andy Worthington also spoke to John Rees on the Islam Channel for around 15 minutes, but that interview is not yet available online. Also see Andy’s photos here, and follow all the #FastForShaker coverage on Twitter.

RT has also made other interviews available. See below for actor/director Mark Rylance, and comedian Sara Pascoe, Shaker’s father-in-law Saeed Siddique and Andy Worthington at the launch:

Mark Rylance.

Sara Pascoe at the launch.

Saeed Siddique at the launch.

Andy Worthington at the launch.

On 17 October, the Daily Mail reported Shaker Aamer’s latest words from Guantánamo, via Cori Crider, one of his lawyers at Reprieve. Shaker called on the US authorities to release him early, so he could be home for his daughter Johina’s 18th birthday on Tuesday 20th October. Crider said he “seemed more optimistic than at any time during the eight years she has been visiting him.”

For 18 October, when he was fasting for a day, David Davis MP (Conservative, Haltemprice and Howden) gave a detailed interview to Middle East Eye. On his involvement in the Fast For Shaker campaign, he said he “had been persuaded to join a solidarity 24-hour hunger strike this Sunday because of news that Shaker Aamer is on hunger strike himself, protesting against his continuing mistreatment at Guantánamo.” Davis said, “Now that we are probably only two weeks away from his release I was very worried that he would harm himself just shy of coming home. The single most important thing in my mind is that we get Shaker back to his family in the UK and out of this hideous detention.”

The fast was also covered by NPR in the US, who interviewed John McDonnell and Saeed Siddique at the London launch, and that news story is embedded below:

On 18 October, Andy Worthington was interviewed by Anastasia Kyriacou for Shoreditch Radio, in a 45-minute interview that covered the history of Guantánamo and the Close Guantánamo, We Stand With Shaker and Fast For Shaker campaigns.

On 19 October, Tom Brake MP (Liberal Democrat, Carshalton and Wallington) wrote an article explaining why he had joined the fast for a day. Tom wrote, “I have decided to stand with Shaker and today I am fasting for 24 hours. This is a protest for Shaker but he is by no means the only victim of torture or illegal imprisonment around the world. It is for this reason that the Liberal Democrats will continue to champion human rights as an essential facet of the UK’s foreign policy. We have been consistent in Government and in opposition, at lobbying the United States for Shaker Aamer’s release … I encourage everyone to join me and others around the world in this protest. The greater the number who fast for Shaker, the more pressure will be exerted on the US Government to end the abuse of prisoners held without charge in GTMO.”

Andy Worthington also wrote an article in which he stated that “there has been some very positive news from Cori Crider, one of Shaker’s lawyers at the London-based legal charity Reprieve, who told me when we met at the weekend that, on her visit to Guantánamo last week, Shaker had been persuaded to break his strike, and to drink a calorie-rich mango smoothie, because he was so moved by the pledges of campaigners to fast on his behalf, so that he can look after himself prior to his release from Guantánamo and his return to his family London. I am not entirely sure that he has completely given up his hunger strike, but the fact that he has been so moved by campaigners that he has been taking in sustenance is great news indeed.”

Also on 19 October, former Guantánamo guard Joseph Hickman, the author of Murder at Camp Delta, appeared on an episode of Afshan Rattansi’s show ‘Going Underground‘ on RT, entitled, “Murder in Guantánamo, Homophobic hate crimes and love in war,” where he discussed Shaker’s knowledge of what happened on the night on 9 June 2006, when three men died at Guantánamo, allegedly by committing suicide.

On 21 October, Clive Stafford Smith’s fasting diary was published on the Huffington Post. Clive’s article began, “I have now been without food for 48 hours. That is not very long. Shaker Aamer has frequently done it in Guantánamo Bay for weeks. I suspect I’ve dropped a couple of pounds. Shaker’s weight has fluctuated from roughly 16 stone (224 lbs) when he was first taken into US custody, to ten stone (140 lbs) at the nadir of his many hunger strikes. He is currently towards the lower end of the scale.”

On 22 October, Shaker’s story was featured once again on the Victoria Derbyshire Show on BBC2, with an actor reading out detailed commentary from within the prison by Shaker himself, and Andrew Mitchell MP and Kat Craig of Reprieve discussing Shaker’s case with Victoria.

On the same day, Shaker’s case was also featured on Democracy Now!, where Clive Stafford Smith was interviewed by Amy Goodman and Nermeen Shaikh:

On 23 October, the day she was fasting, Jenny Jones, Green Party London Assembly member, wrote an article for the Huffington Post, “Shaker Aamer and Our Responsibility,” in which she stated, “The thought of his coming home and being reunited with his family is fantastic. But we must also hear from him first-hand about what he experienced at Guantánamo Bay — if he can stand to tell us. We need to know exactly what the US government — and the UK government, which has been complicit in the ‘rendering’ of British and other nationals to Guantánamo — has done, so we can hold them to account. For all of us, the fight for justice for Shaker, his wife and children, is far from over.”

On 24 October, We Fast For Shaker’s founders, Andy Worthington and Joanne MacInnes, joined the Save Shaker Aamer Campaign for a vigil opposite 10 Downing Street marking Shaker’s 5000th day in Guantánamo, where Andy spoke and played his ‘Song for Shaker Aamer‘ with two members of his band The Four Fathers, and was then asked by SSAC to deliver a letter to David Cameron. See the video here, and also see Andy’s photos of the day.

25 October was supposed to be the day of Shaker’s return, but “logistical arrangements” were cited as a reason for a delay in his return by State Department officials who spoke to the Daily Mail. We continued to encourage people to fast until Shaker’s return, and he was finally returned home on 30 October. See his statement here.