Guantánamo detainee Shaker Aamer shouts, “Tell the world the truth,” in a rare clip that survived censorship to emerge from the detention center in southeast Cuba, posted on the CBS website Friday.
Attorney Clive Stafford Smith identified the former British resident as the prisoner under lockdown who can be heard shouting at a 60 Minutes crew in a story on Guantánamo that’s scheduled to air Sunday. Aamer, born in Saudi Arabia, is 44, has a wife and four children in London, and is among 84 captives cleared for release from the detention center since 2009.
CBS correspondent Lesley Stahl described the episode, and aired the clip, in an interview on Friday’s CBS This Morning — but did not identify the prisoner. Aamer is among Guantánamo’s best-known captives because of a campaign to have him reunited with his family in Britain rather than having him returned to Saudi Arabia.
Stahl said she experienced “horrible emotions” hearing “that man yelling” at the CBS crew while it filmed inside Guantánamo’s maximum-security Camp 5 lockup in September.
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In it, Aamer shouts: “Please, we are tired.”
He adds: “Either you leave us to die in peace — or either tell the world the truth. Let the world hear what’s happening.”
As of Friday, the Pentagon held 164 captives at the prison in Cuba, just three of them convicted of war crimes — and 14 of them classified by U.S. Navy prison doctors as hunger strikers.
Journalists brought to Camp 5 this year have been allowed to listen to the sounds of prisoners praying inside their cells but are told by troops escorting them that they’ll be hustled outside if the captives realize reporters are on the cellblock.
In the instance of 60 Minutes, the crew was not only allowed to record the captive’s message but military censors did not destroy it. More typically, the Guantánamo censors destroy any material that might make a detainee recognizable — from handwriting to photos that show distinctive features.
The crew captured the sound of Aamer shouting while visiting Guantánamo in September to observe pretrial hearings in the Sept. 11 military tribunal. Unlike other reporters at the same hearing, the TV crew was allowed simultaneous access to the prison camps while court was in session — something the Pentagon has forbidden in recent years.
Stafford Smith, an attorney with the Reprieve legal defense service of London, told the Miami Herald he recognized the voice in the 60 Minutes preview but was already aware of the encounter from a conversation he had with Aamer at Guantánamo in late October.
Stafford Smith said he could not elaborate, however, because officials had not completed a review of notes he made of the meeting with Aamer. Such a review is required when attorneys want to make public details of their conversations with Guantánamo prisoners, which may include information the military would consider secret.