For Immediate Release
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Guantánamo Force-Feeding: Court Hearing Today 10am EST
WASHINGTON - Lawyers for a hunger-striking prisoner at Guantánamo Bay will today appear before a judge, having viewed video evidence of force-feedings for the first time in the history of the prison.
The DC federal court will discuss what further evidence the US government should provide in order to determine whether the force-feeding practice is humane, as the government claims, or an abuse that should be stopped, as prisoners have said.
Abu Wa'el Dhiab, a father of four from Syria, is one of several hunger-striking prisoners currently asking the DC District Court to order a halt to the practice of force-feeding at Guantánamo. Mr Dhiab, who is in failing health, has been held at the US prison without charge or trial since 2002. He was cleared for release by the Obama Administration in 2009.
Lawyers from legal non-profit Reprieve, which is representing Mr Dhiab, have now viewed 28 tapes of his so-called 'forcible cell extractions' and forced feedings, dating back to April 2013. The tapes were produced by the prison authorities after Judge Gladys Kessler ordered them to be handed over as evidence.
Last week, an affidavit from a fellow prisoner, Ahmed Rabbani, revealed that the prison authorities had confiscated Mr Dhiab’s wheelchair and, when he was unable to walk to force-feeding sessions, dragged him forcibly to the feeding chair. Last week, he said, staff beat Mr Dhiab “so badly, he had blood in his feces. I heard him vomiting for much of the night.”
It also surfaced that during the same period - and after the judge's order to disclose taped evidence - Guantánamo authorities stopped videotaping forcible cell extractions for what is believed to be the first time in over nine years.
Cori Crider, Reprieve attorney for Mr Dhiab, said: “While I’m not allowed to discuss the contents of these videos, I can say that I had trouble sleeping after viewing them. I have no doubt that if President Obama forced himself to watch them, he would release my client tomorrow.”
Notes to editors
1. Today’s status hearing will take place at 10am EST at the District of Columbia District Court, 333 Constitution Ave NW #4400, Washington, DC 20001.
2. Documents submitted to the court by Reprieve, including Mr Rabbani’s affidavit, can be viewed here.
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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.