EX-LABOUR Prime Minister, Tony Blair, and ex-Labour Foreign Secretary Jack Straw ‘must have known’ about the torture of British prisoner Shaker Aamer by the United States, SNP MP Alex Salmond claimed yesterday.
In October, Aamer became the final Briton to be freed from Guantanamo Bay where he was held for 14 years without trial. He told yesterday’s Mail on Sunday that a British intelligence officer was present at the time he allegedly had his head banged against a wall at the US Bagram air base in Afghanistan in 2002.
Speaking on The Andrew Marr Show, Salmond said: ‘British officials, intelligence officers . . . came into Bagram airbase on the same flight as the then-Prime Minister Tony Blair. ‘And so the not unreasonable allegation that Shaker Aamer makes is that both the Prime Minister Tony Blair and the then-Foreign Secretary Jack Straw must have known, not just about his illegal abduction, but also about his torture at the hands of the US authorities.
‘As with so many things, Messrs Blair and Straw have a great deal to answer for and they have to be asked the straight question: “How can they possibly not have known about the fate befallen a British citizen?”
‘Governments have many responsibilities but the prime responsibility of all governments is to keep their own citizens safe from harm and governments are not meant to collaborate in the illegal abduction and then the torture of one of our own citizens. Both the then-Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary have to face up and tell us exactly what they knew and when they knew it.’
In the Mail on Sunday interview, Aamer claimed some 200 people interrogated him during his time in prison and he was subject to torture by methods including sleep deprivation. He said that he was asked repeatedly about his alleged recruitment for jihadi groups in London, which he has always denied.Salmond suggested one of the reasons it took so long to free Aamer may have been because of the allegations of torture in Afghanistan in 2002.
He said: ‘One of the suspicions that those campaigning for his release have had is that there has to be a reason for him not being released despite being cleared for release twice over that period. It’s always been centred over the revelations he would have about what’s been going on in Guantanamo Bay, it now appears a reason might have been about what has gone on in January 2002 at Bagram airbase.’
Aamer has said he wants an apology from the US government over his treatment. He has also called for the UK government to hold an ‘open and transparent’ inquiry into allegations that the UK was complicit in torture. Discussing terror attacks in the UK, he said that killing civilians was not allowed according to his understanding of Islam.
‘Even if there is a war you cannot kill just anybody, you cannot kill kids, you cannot kill chaplains, you cannot just go in the street and get a knife and start stabbing people. If you are that angry about this country, you can get the hell out.’