Some of the detainees at Haslar prison in Gosport, from African countries such as Zaire and Nigeria, have been held for more than 12 months, according to the Winchester Action Group for Asylum Seekers, a voluntary group which is in regular touch with them.
Su Braden, a spokeswoman for the group, said last night that the men wanted to be released on temporary admission into Britain pending the resolution of their cases. 'They feel like they are being treated like criminals.'
The Home Office said that the protest started on Tuesday when 14 out of the 106 prisoners refused their evening meal. By yesterday all but six were refusing food.