Britain expected to ask Obama to free last British Gitmo detainee

By CHUCK DEBEVEC   |   May 5, 2013 at 7:54 PM   |   Comments

LONDON, May 5 (UPI) -- A British lawmaker says the government will publicly ask the United States to free the last former British resident at the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

In the wake of U.S. President Barack Obama's renewed pledge to close the prison, Tory Member of Parliament Jane Ellison said Britain's Foreign Secretary William Hague will consider stepping up efforts to bring home to London Shaker Aamer, who has been on a hunger strike for 80 days in Guantanamo, the Observer of London reported Saturday.

Although Hague has not yet made a statement on the matter since Obama's renewed his promise Tuesday, Ellison said during a meeting with MPs campaigning for Aamer's release that Hague spoke of making a public plea.

Clive Stafford Smith, Aamer's attorney, said he is increasingly worried about the seriousness of his client's physical condition and that Aamer is well beyond the point at which a hunger strike can cause "irreversible cognitive impairment."

About 100 of the 166 prison inmates are on hunger strike, with some being force-fed, The Observer reported.

Peter Maurer, president of the International Committee of the Red Cross, recently chastised Obama over prison conditions, the newspaper said.

The Observer said U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, senior CIA officials and U.S. Deputy Secretary of State William Burns concurred with Maurer.

United Nations officials last week also strongly criticized force-feeding hunger-striking detainees, saying it was contrary to international medical standards.

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