Guantanamo Bay: Judge rules US government must release video of detainees being force-fed

Judge also rules against allowing a closed hearing of one detainee

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The Independent US

The American government has been ordered to release videotapes showing Guantanamo Bay detainees being force-fed while on hunger strike.

US District Court Judge Gladys Kessler granted a request from a number of media organisations to release the tapes showing Syrian prisoner Abu Wa’el Dhiab being forcibly removed from his cell and fed.

Lawyers for Mr Dhiab have challenged his treatment as abusive.

However, the 28 tapes will not be immediately available. Some information, including the faces and voices of Guantanamo staff, will be redacted.

A request for the tapes was made in June by numerous media outlets, including the Associated Press and the Guardian.

"Protection of the identities of Guantanamo Bay staff is a legitimate goal," Judge Kessler wrote.

Lawyer Jon Eisenberg, representing Mr Dhiab who has been detained since 2002, said to the Huffington Post: “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".

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

Judge Kessler also rejected a request from the US government to close a hearing on Mr Dhiab’s case, initially scheduled for Monday.

Mr Dhiah was told in the spring he would be resettled in Uruguay, along with five other Guantanamo prisoners. However, his transfer has been put on hold.

Previously, the US has disclosed how many detainees are being force fed but at the end of last year a Navy spokesperson said although peaceful protest was permitted, reporting numbers to the public would no longer be done.

Videoing forcible cell extractions is standard protocol at many penal institutions in the US, however, Guantanamo is unusual because their footage also includes forced feedings.

Last year the Cuban-based prison faced the longest hunger strike in its history, with more than 100 detainees refusing food.

A reported 36 individuals were tube fed and five hospitalised as part of the protest against conditions in the jail.

President Barack Obama has faced repeated calls to close the centre.