Gitmo Prisoner’s “Life at Risk” After Abusive Force-Feeding

The health of a hunger-striking detainee at Guantánamo Bay has plummeted so low that it appears his life is at risk, his lawyer has said, days after a visit to the prison.

Abu Wa’el Dhiab, a father of four from Syria, is currently asking the DC District Court to order a halt to abusive force-feeding methods and the practice of unnecessary ‘forced cell extractions.’ Mr. Dhiab, who needs a wheelchair after years of mistreatment at Guantánamo, has been detained at the prison without charge or trial since 2002. He was cleared for release by the Obama Administration in 2009.

Cori Crider, Mr. Dhiab’s attorney and a director at human rights organization Reprieve, submitted a sworn declaration to the court yesterday as part of a filing requesting an urgent independent medical examination. The filing says his health has “deteriorated to the point that she now fears his life is at risk […] Petitioner appeared frail and listless, his face had no color and he […] spent the afternoon lying prostate on the floor, his agony evidently unrelieved by pain medication he had been given.”

It adds that Mr. Dhiab was unable to come to the phone yesterday, compounding worries for his state: “If Petitioner does not now receive a medical assessment independent of the military command structure, Petitioner may become incurably ill or worse.”

Recent revelations about the existence of footage of Mr. Dhiab’s abuse have prompted a formal intervention in the case from 16 major US news organisations. In their latest filing to the court Friday, the organizations criticised what they said was the Obama Administration’s “blunderbuss claims” that disclosing the tapes would be harmful to national security, calling them “illogical and implausible”, and “contradicted by the Government’s own past disclosures” of details about Guantánamo during extensive press tours.

Commenting, Cori Crider said: “The authorities at Guantanamo have been steadfast in their refusal to stop abusing my weak, disabled client for peacefully protesting his indefinite detention. His decline is the obvious result of that abuse. Abu Wa’el Dhiab needs to be assessed by an independent doctor as soon as possible, and these punitive force-feeding tactics have to stop.”