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Shaker Aamer: 'No plans to sue' over Guantanamo

media captionShaker Aamer told Victoria Derbyshire that he believes a British agent witnessed his beating in Afghanistan

The last British resident held at Guantanamo Bay has said he does not intend to take legal action against the UK government over his imprisonment.

In his first broadcast interview, to the BBC's Victoria Derbyshire programme, Shaker Aamer detailed abuse he allegedly suffered at the US camp and in detention in Afghanistan.

He has alleged that a British official was present at one of his beatings.

But he said he does not want to see anyone prosecuted over the case.

Mr Aamer, 48, also spoke of the joy at being reunited with his family after 14 years. He has denied being a security threat to the UK.

He also said he did not intend to take legal action, saying: "I don't believe the court will bring justice because of what happened in the past."

"I do not want to prosecute anybody," he said, "I do not want anybody to be asked about what his role [was] in the past. I just want people to tell the truth."

media captionShaker Aamer's journey explained

He also said he could not talk about compensation "for many reasons", but added that it was "beside the point".

Mr Aamer also said the "great reason" behind the growth of Islamist extremism was "injustice" which bred "all this anger" and had acted as a recruiting sergeant.

Speaking earlier to the Mail on Sunday newspaper, Mr Aamer denounced extremists such as the killers of Fusilier Lee Rigby, saying they should "get the hell out" of the country.

'Completely inhumane'

Mr Aamer was seized by bounty hunters in Afghanistan in 2001, in the wake of the US invasion of the country.

He was first held in Afghanistan before being transferred to the US military base in Cuba in 2002.

US intelligence agencies believed he was working with Osama bin Laden - but Mr Aamer said he had moved to Afghanistan to help with charity work. He was never charged and accusations against him were dropped in 2007.

media captionShaker Aamer: My first words to my wife

Saudi-born Mr Aamer, who flew back to the UK in October, said he feared he would be a stranger to his children, one of whom was born the day he arrived at Guantanamo Bay.

"They look at me and they're just trying to know 'who is this person?'... through their eyes, I mean, I feel like they are just looking at a stranger," he said.

During the interview, he reveals how one interrogator in Afghanistan threatened to rape his daughter, who was then aged five.

"He told me that your wife and your daughter is with us," he said. "And if you don't start talking, we will rape your daughter and you will hear her crying: 'Daddy, Daddy'.

"That was completely inhumane. It was worse than the beating as well, worse than everything, just thinking of my daughter, you know, and I just sat there, you know, silent completely."

Interrogation beating

During his BBC interview, Mr Aamer was asked about an allegation that he was once an al-Qaeda operative, to which he replied: "Not at all. Prove it. Prove anything that you say is true. Prove it to the world."

And to the allegation that he was a close associate of Osama bin Laden's, Mr Aamer said: "When? How? Where is the evidence?"

He added: "None of the allegations are true".

He also said that while in Afghanistan, he was not working for an "official charity" but that the work he did there was "our own way of helping that society", and he referred to digging wells and opening schools.

Mr Aamer said before being handed to the Americans he was initially held by the Northern Alliance, a collection of anti-Taliban fighters.

He said the Afghans wanted him to admit he worked with Bin Laden, and that he made a filmed admission of that "because of the torture" and that it was "definitely not true".

image copyrightReuters
image captionShaker Aamer wants Tony Blair to reveal what he knew about his time in captivity

Mr Aamer admits to attending talks in London given by radical preacher Abu Qatada, who was deported out of the UK in July 2013.

"According to my own knowledge he got nothing to do with bin Laden and he never, he never preached about him in his circles."

Mr Aamer also called for then-Prime Minister Tony Blair to "tell the truth", adding that the former PM and those in government at the time of his imprisonment "know what they were doing".

Mr Aamer said that on one occasion, he believed a British intelligence officer was present when an American interrogator was beating the detainee's head against a wall.

"I felt my head - boom, boom, boom - banging the wall. And all I remember [is] that my head just keep banging the wall, back and forth, back and forth, back and forth," he said.

Asked if he was certain a British intelligence officer was present, he replied: "I would say 80, 90%.

"I have no doubt he is an Englishman, because of the way he spoke, the way he is very careful, the way he was sitting far away, looking at me."

'Against torture'

Conservative MP Dominic Grieve, chairman of the Intelligence and Security Committee, said he hoped Mr Aamer would give evidence to his committee, and did not rule out inviting Mr Blair and former Foreign Secretary Jack Straw to speak as well.

"If someone witnessed torture I would have expected that to be fed up the chain, through the management," he added.

image copyrightReprieve UK
image captionShaker Aamer was held in Afghanistan after 9/11 and was transferred to Guantanamo Bay

A spokesman for Mr Blair said he had always been opposed to the use of torture, which he considers "totally unacceptable".

The former prime minister "believes the fight against radical Islamism is a fight about values and acting contrary to those values - as in the use of torture - is therefore not just wrong but counter-productive," the spokesman added.

Mr Straw said in a statement that "I and we never condoned nor were complicit in torture and ill-treatment by the US, including that which appears to have happened to Mr Aamer".

The British government said it "stands firmly against torture and cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment or punishment" - and the US military says it does not tolerate abuse of detainees.

A spokesman for the US Department of Defense added: "Shaker Aamer was lawfully detained at the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay.

"He was transferred to the United Kingdom following a determination by the Secretary of Defence, consistent with statutory requirements, that security arrangements are in place to substantially mitigate Aamer's potential threat to the United States."

Related Topics

  • Guantanamo Bay
  • National security

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