Gitmo hunger striker launches Twitter campaign

Shaker Aamer, held without charge for 11 years, asks attorneys to garner support through social media

By Natasha Lennard

Published May 20, 2013 7:43PM (EDT)

  (Reuters/Shane T. McCoy)
(Reuters/Shane T. McCoy)

It is a tragic state of affairs when more than 100 men starve themselves, some close to death, in protest of human rights abrogations -- and Twitter is needed to gain them attention. But here we are, more than 100 days into the Guantanamo Bay hunger strike, and one starving detainee is turning -- through his attorneys -- to social media.

Shaker Aamer, a Saudi citizen and former British resident, has been held without charge in the camp for 11 years. The British government has vowed to pursue his release, but currently, Aamer continues to be incarcerated and is on hunger strike. He has lost a quarter of his body weight. Wired reported Monday that Aamer is "is hoping that Twitter can help him." Via Spencer Ackerman:

Clive Stafford Smith, who runs the UK human-rights legal firm Reprieve, tweeted this morning that “Shaker Aamer would like everyone” to call the U.S. embassy in London “to demand action on Guantanamo Bay.” He’s got 80 retweets as of this writing.

... The specific request came through the Reprieve lawyer working on Aamer’s case, Cori Crider, who visited Aamer at Guantanamo at the beginning of the month. According to Crider’s notes from a May 1 meeting, the air conditioning in Aamer’s cell is kept at 70 degrees, “which is very cold for someone who has not eaten for 90 days,” and a Guantanamo official referred to as “the Rover” informed Aamer that detainees who meet with their lawyers “must be searched thoroughly and including your private parts.”

... “I like the idea that Shaker, who the military thinks is lonely in his cell 100 days towards hunger strike starvation,” Stafford Smith says, “is able to get a note to me through the censors that I can tweet to 12,000 people, who in turn send his message on to several millions."

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Natasha Lennard

Natasha Lennard is an assistant news editor at Salon, covering non-electoral politics, general news and rabble-rousing. Follow her on Twitter @natashalennard, email

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Gitmo Guantanamo Guantanamo Hunger Strike Human Rights Reprieve Shaker Aemer Twitter