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Shaker Aamer 'suffered profound disruption of his life' at Guantánamo

Psychiatric report, following examination in December 2013, concluded Aamer was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and anxiety

From : The Guardian 1/11/15

The scale of the challenges facing Shaker Aamer along with his family and doctors has been laid bare by a detailed psychiatric report that was prepared while he was a Guantánamo prisoner.

After a five-day examination, a forensic psychiatrist and neurologist concluded that Aamer was suffering from severe post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and anxiety, and is experiencing hallucinations as a consequence of his years of isolation. He has suffered ear damage, digestive disorders and has frequent migraine attacks.

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Aamer was taken directly to a private London clinic after being flown to Biggin Hill airport, south of London, on Friday. He was then reunited with his wife and four children.

One of the doctors treating Aamer has said that he was so distrustful of his American captors that he refused to eat anything during the flight, for fear they might have poisoned the food.

The psychiatric report, following an examination in December 2013, was written by Dr Emily Keram, who specialises in the treatment of PTSD among former service personnel.

Aamer’s lawyers posted the report online last year, while demanding that he be released on the grounds of ill-health.

Keram noted that Aamer was “hyper-focused on controlling aspects of himself and his environment that he is able to influence … as an attempt to create and maintain some sense of personhood, dignity, and autonomy in conditions that erode one’s sense of their humanity and self-governance.

“In addition to the psychiatric symptoms … Mr Aamer has suffered a profound disruption of his life, dignity, and personhood. His world is severely constricted, with little opportunities for autonomy and meaningful human interaction.”

Aamer, now 48, gave Keram a detailed account of the manner in which he had been severely mistreated while at two US detention centres in Afghanistan, and at Guantánamo, where he had been held without charge since February 2002.

At Bagram, north of Kabul, he says he was beaten, threatened, kept naked and deprived of sleep for 11 days. “You ask yourself: ‘Are they really trying to hurt me or are they trying to help me?’” he told Keram. “You can’t tell any more. They bang your head on the wall and then they give you a hot meal.”

At Kandahar, Aamer said, one US interrogator showed him a small kindness, heating up food for him and then said that he was going to rape his five-year-old daughter. After the years of abuse, Aamer told Keram, “I can’t tell cruelty and kindness apart”.

British involvement in rendition and torture demands an inquiry

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Keram reported that “at numerous times during the five-day evaluation he became visibly agitated and interrupted himself when discussing the severe maltreatment he’s experienced. At those times, he either stopped talking or repeatedly engaged in apparent efforts to distract himself from painful and disturbing memories by suddenly and loudly singing.”

One song that Aamer frequently sang to distract himself was Eurythmics’ hit single Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This).

One of Aamer’s lawyers, Clive Stafford Smith, has said that Aamer wants to see an open and effective inquiry into the UK’s role in the rendition programme that resulted in the kidnap and torture of terrorism suspects after 9/11.

The British government shelved an inquiry that was being conducted by an appeal court judge and instead asked Westminster’s intelligence and security committee to conduct an inquiry, hearing evidence in secret.

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