US judge orders release of Gitmo videotapes of force-feeding

US judge orders release of Gitmo videotapes of force-feeding

Fri Oct 3, 2014 9:48PM GMT

A US judge on Friday ordered the public release of 28 videotapes showing a hunger-striking prisoner at the Guantanamo Bay prison being forcibly removed from his cell and force-fed.

Forty-three-year-old Abu Wa’el Dhiab from Syria started his hunger strike 18 months ago to protest his indefinite confinement without charge. He is protesting force-feeding procedures administered by prison authorities. Lawyers for the prisoner said his treatment was abusive.

In June, several media outlets requested the court to unseal the videotapes of the feedings and the extractions, which are among the key pieces of evidence in the hearing.

On Friday, Judge Gladys Kessler, of the Washington DC district court, granted the request, but said the tapes will remain sealed until they are doctored.

The material to be removed includes identifying information of everyone on the tapes, except for the prisoner.

“We are very gratified by this decision, which will enable the American people to see with their own eyes the sorts of abuses that are being heaped on these peacefully hunger-striking detainees,” said Dhiab’s lawyer Jon Eisenberg.

“Once the truth is fully brought to light, we believe these terrible practices will come to an end,” Eisenberg said.

A day earlier, the judge rejected government plea to close a hearing into the force-feeding of Dhiab. She dismissed the government’s argument that an open hearing would jeopardize national security, describing it as “extraordinary” and “deeply troubling”.

Dhiab, who has been fed through a nasal tube to prevent starvation, is challenging some of the tactics used by the military to deal with prisoners on hunger strike, according to documents filed in a federal court in Washington.

Dhiab is over six feet tall and now weighs only155 pounds, which is very thin for his height. One of his lawyers said that he was so weak that he had to lie on the floor when she met him this summer at the prison.

He said the military’s practice of forcibly feeding detainees through tubes inserted through the nose into the stomach is abusive.

Dhiab has since been detained at the Guantanamo without any charges filed against him since 2002.

There are still about 150 inmates at the prison which was set up after the September 11, 2001, attacks. A mass hunger strike involved many of the prisoners in the summer of 2005 but the protest dwindled after the military began tying people down and force-feeding them liquid nutrients through tubes to prevent them from starving to death.

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