Fears for health of Briton staging hunger strike in Guantanamo Bay

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The Independent US

There are growing fears for the health of a British resident held in Guantanamo Bay after it emerged that he has begun a hunger strike in protest over American plans to put him on trial for alleged terror offences.

Binyam Mohamed, 29, from west London, has been held in American custody since his arrest in Pakistan in April 2002. He alleges the only evidence against him had been extracted under torture and that he will not receive a fair hearing at a US military commission.

Now lawyers for Mr Mohamed have written to the Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, to raise concerns about their client's mental and physical welfare after he lost nearly two stone in weight in four weeks.

They allege that the Guantanamo guards at first failed to notice Mr Mohamed was on hunger strike. When they did, the letter alleges, they began tormenting him by showing him a book entitled Healthy Eating, featuring gourmet dishes from around the world.

Clive Stafford Smith, the director of the human rights charity Reprieve and the lawyer representing Mr Mohamed, tells Mr Miliband: "Mr Mohamed began not eating food on 2 May 2008, when he was 146lb (10 stone 6lb) – already underweight for a man six feet tall. However, Mr Mohamed accepted his tray of food each day for 16 days. Because the US military initially does not count it as a 'hunger strike' if the prisoner does not actually refuse the tray, this went unnoticed.

"To make his point, on Sunday 18 May, he began refusing the trays. By then, he was already down to 9 stone 2lb." Since then he had lost a further stone in weight.

Yesterday, the Government confirmed that it had asked the American government to investigate claims that Mr Mohamed had suffered torture during his detention in Morocco, including having his genitals cut with a razor.

A Foreign Office spokes-man said the Government was still seeking Mr Mohamed's release and that Mr Miliband had held "discussions" with the US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, about the case.