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The disgrace of Guantanamo

February 17, 2012 11:54 AM

Guantanamo prisoner Shaker Aamer and his family are my constituents as MEP. In that capacity and as a human rights campaigner who helped establish the European Parliament inquiry into "extraordinary rendition", I am outraged that Shaker has been incarcerated in Guantanamo for a decade in total denial of due process.

But I am also vice-chair of the European Parliament's delegation to the United States and thoroughly supportive of close and co-operative relations between the EU/UK and the US. I am perplexed that the vital and flourishing transatlantic relationship is unable to deliver the freedom of a legal European resident who has been charged with no crime, in view of the shared commitment to justice and the rule of law.

The EC and the US authorities are trying to persuade MEPs to endorse a draft agreement whereby the US gets personal data of all America-bound European travellers. Of course, I subscribe to the security objectives of data-sharing, but the failure to act consistently within a framework of human rights makes it no easier to vote in favour of this accord. My American contacts will no doubt claim "no linkage", but I'm afraid there is.

(Letter was published in 'The Independent' on February 16, 2012)