UK & World News

  • 18 May 2014, 22:08

Guantanamo: Order To Stop Force-Feeding Inmate

The US government has been ordered to temporarily stop force-feeding a Syrian inmate at Guantanamo Bay prison and hand over video tapes of his treatment.

Abu Wa'el Dhiab, 42, was cleared for release by the Obama administration in 2009, but has been locked up at the US naval base in Cuba for more than 10 years without charge or trial.

Lawyers from UK-based human rights group Reprieve are trying to secure 140 to 150 videos of Mr Dhiab being force-fed or forcibly restrained.

US District Judge Gladys Kessler ordered the government to preserve and provide footage of his force-feeding and so-called forcible cell extractions between April 2013 and February 2014.

Reprieve says forcible cell extractions are where prisoners are "often violently" forcibly restrained and taken to the force-feeding chair.

Judge Kessler also ordered the administration to stop force-feeding Mr Dhiab until Wednesday.

US government lawyers confirmed Mr Dhiab, who was born in Lebanon, is on the list for force-feeding, a rare acknowledgement as authorities have refused to provide information about hunger strikers and their treatment since December last year.

"Despite Gitmo's media blackout on information about force-feeding and brutal forcible cell extractions, we've managed to get some key information out," said Reprieve strategic director Cori Crider.

"Everything we've learned is highly disturbing.

"JTF-GTMO (Joint Task Force-Guantanamo) also has a history of losing inconvenient evidence, including similar tapes of the Gitmo riot squad, so let's hope that these recordings don't go the way of the waterboarding tapes before them."

US Justice Department attorneys said Mr Dhiab's lawyers have yet to prove his forcible cell extractions are "unlawful".

"His motion is completely devoid of any details regarding specific instances of mistreatment," they added.

Reprieve says Mr Dhiab's return to Syria is now "impossible" because of the civil war there that has already claimed more than 150,000 lives.

The father of four's health has "deteriorated significantly" and he is "profoundly depressed" and confined to a wheelchair, it added.

Mr Obama promised to close Guantanamo prison at the beginning of his presidency.

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