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Tweeting for freedom: Gitmo inmate starts online campaign

Published time: May 22, 2013 14:42
Edited time: May 22, 2013 17:02
Reuters / Bob Strong

Reuters / Bob Strong

An inmate at Guantanamo Bay prison has embarked on a Twitter campaign through his lawyer for the closure of the facility where he has been kept for 11 years, despite being cleared for release.

Follow RT’s day-by-day timeline of the Gitmo hunger strike.

The tweeting inmate is Shaker Aamer, a Saudi citizen and a legal resident of the UK. Unable to go online himself, he is delivering his message to Twitter through his lawyer, Clive Stafford Smith, who is also founder of legal group Reprieve.

The May 20 tweet urging people to call the US Embassy in the UK and demand the closure of Gitmo has already been retweeted more than 300 times.

Smith said that although he is doing the tweeting, it was Aamer’s idea, despite the fact that he was imprisoned four years before Twitter even existed. "

He really does know about Twitter and all the social media, as I have sent him copies of what people have said and done for him to keep his spirits up ," Wired quoted Smith as saying.

Twitter users who called the embassy shared their experience online:

Aamer is one of 86 Guantanamo detainees cleared for release. He is also one of the inmates on hunger strike for the facility’s closure. The number of those on strike is 103 according to prison officials, and more than 130 according to the prisoners’ lawyers.

One-third of the striking inmates are being force-fed, including Aamer. The practice has been deemed torture and a breach of international law by the UN human rights office.

There’s only one way to end this strike fairly, and that’s to take prisoners who’ve been cleared for release and set them free. And Shaker Aamer, the last British resident, he could come back to London tomorrow if only President Obama would show him redemption and use the National Defense Authorization Act to let people go free. That’s the only way to solve this problem,” Smith told RT.

Aamer has been held without charge since 2002, despite having been cleared for release six years ago along with the other 85 detainees. The Reprieve website said he “has been repeatedly abused and subjected to extended isolation in Guantánamo Bay.” Aamer joined the hunger strike on February 15. His lawyer is concerned with his deteriorating health, saying his client has long passed the point where he risks “irreversible cognitive impairment.”

AFP Photo / John Moore

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