Judge orders US government to release Guantanamo force-feeding videotapes to prisoner’s lawyers

May 22, 2014

Image of detainees in Guantanamo bay

A federal court judge today ordered the US government to produce 34 videotapes showing Guantanamo prisoner Abu Wa’el Dhiab being forcibly dragged from his cell, and then being force-fed.

Judge Gladys Kessler did not require the government to hand over all 136 videos of Mr. Dhiab being subjected to the ‘Forcible Cell Extraction’ process – which has been done to him on average three times a week for a full year.The court also ordered the government to produce Mr. Dhiab’s medical records – noting that they are, after all, his own records. These records should allow the court to make a proper assessment of the traumatic impact of force-feeding on Mr Dhiab’s declining health.

Today’s hearing marked the first time the US government has been ordered to give detainees’ lawyers videotapes of force-feedings. Cori Crider, strategic director of Reprieve, said: “Mr. Dhiab has been cleared for transfer from Guantanamo Bay for several years now, and yet promises of his imminent release have come to nothing, so it is not surprising that he has gone on a peaceful hunger strike in desperation. It is very encouraging that the rule of law is finally coming to Guantanamo, so that perhaps Mr. Dhiab’s situation can be resolved. While the photographic evidence of his abuse is secret, it will at least allow the judge to see what is happening to him.”

ENDS

Notes to editors

1. Abu Wa’el Dhiab and other Guantánamo prisoners are represented by the Reprieve US legal team, with arguments presented by attorney Jon Eisenberg.

2. For further information, and copies of court documents, please  go to www.reprieve.org or contact Reprieve’s press office: katherine.oshea@reprieve.org  / +1 (917) 855 8064 or clemency.wells@reprieve.org.uk / + 44 (0) 207 553 8161