Federal Court to Hold US Government to Account Over Force-Feeding of Guantánamo Detainees

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

katherine.oshea@reprieve.org / +1 (917) 855 8064
2. Attorney Jon Eisenberg may be contacted for interview on 510-305-7670 or jeisenberg@horvitzlevy.com

Federal Court to Hold US Government to Account Over Force-Feeding of Guantánamo Detainees

WASHINGTON - A US court will today weigh evidence from Guantánamo Bay prisoners and the US military on the prison's controversial force-feeding practices.

It is the first time the US government will be held to account in a court of law over its treatment of prisoners at the Cuban prison camp.

When: 10am (EST), Wednesday May 21, 2014
Where: Room 26A, District Court, 333 Constitution Ave NW, Washington, DC

Last Friday, after seeing evidence presented by Reprieve on prisoner Abu Wa'el Dhiab's daily ordeal, District Court Judge Gladys Kessler placed an emergency restraining order on the Obama Administration, forbidding:

  • the force-feeding of hunger-striking prisoner Abu Wa'el Dhiab
  • the 'Forcible Cell Extraction' of Dhiab (in which a team of guard in riot gear storms a prisoner's cell to move him by force to feedings if he refuses to go)
  • the destruction of over 100 videotapes of force-feedings and Forcible Cell Extractions, the existence of which Justice Department attorneys admitted only last week

Today's hearing is likely to cover:

  • when and whether the US Government must turn over to Dhiab’s lawyers all videotapes and other evidence of his force-feeding and forcible cell extractions (FCEs)
  • whether the current injunction against the force-feeding and FCE-ing of Dhiab should stay in place

Abu Wa'el Dhiab and other Guantánamo prisoners will be represented by the Reprieve US legal team, with arguments by attorney Jon Eisenberg.

Reprieve attorney Cori Crider said: "Judge Kessler was entirely right last year when she said force-feeding was clearly 'a painful, humiliating and degrading process.' I spoke to Mr. Dhiab on the phone just two days ago, and he was absolutely clear that the treatment of hunger strikers today is every bit as bad as it was under George Bush. My client cannot comprehend why he is still in Gitmo years after being cleared and desperately wants to see his wife and children again. The government wouldn't be in this mess if it would just let the cleared prisoners go."

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Reprieve is a UK-based human rights organization that uses the law to enforce the human rights of prisoners, from death row to Guantánamo Bay.