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In-Depth Interview: Journalist Andy Worthington Celebrates Plan to Release Shaker Aamer, Deplores Slow Pace of Prisoner Releases from Guantanamo

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British journalist Andy Worthington, author of The Guantanamo Files, returns to talk about the announcement of the release of Shaker Aamer, the last Brit held at Guantanamo, the result of a creative activist campaign led by Worthington.

The news that President Obama called British Prime Minister Cameron on September 24 to notify him that Shaker Aamer will be released after 13 years in Guantanamo is a major achievement with Worthington and many Britons who joined the effort to win his freedom.  Using a gimmick–a large, inflatable Shaker figure in an orange jumpsuit–and the support of pop stars like Roger Waters, Sting and Peter Gabriel, the group was tireless in drawing attention to the case.

While savoring the moment, Worthington is appropriately guarded, waiting to see Shaker actually returned to England.  And he remains concerned about the slow process of releasing cleared prisoners and Obama’s goal of closing Gitmo before he leaves office.

In this wide-ranging conversation, we talk about the process for reviewing and releasing prisoners, and the many obstacles, mostly political.  We agree that Obama must show stronger leadership, that at most about 2 dozen inmates who have been charged or will be charged, should be transferred to military prisons in the US.  Thorny issues remain regarding about 40 Yemenis who have been cleared for release and 25-30 men who are told they will be held indefinitely without charge or trial.

We open the podcast with part of a song by Andy’s group, The Four Fathers.  You can check out their tunes here, and any downloads will support Worthington’s work, with 25% of proceeds from “Song for Shaker” going to the Aamer family.

For ongoing coverage of Guantanamo, Worthington’s blog is here.