Videotapes sought of Gitmo 'extraction'
WASHINGTON — A federal judge on Wednesday ordered the government to turn over more videotapes showing the forceful removal of a hunger-striking Guantanamo Bay detainee from his cell.
Over Justice Department objections, District Judge Gladys Kessler directed that four videotapes be produced, showing encounters May 29 and 30 between a specially equipped Guantanamo team and longtime detainee Mohammed Abu Wa'el Dhiab.
“We would like those to be produced to verify Mr. Dhiab's account of extra-brutal treatment,” attorney Jon Eisenberg said, adding that the “team was particularly rough with him, and choked him.”
Dhiab, 42, said he'd gone on a hunger strike because he had no other recourse. Imprisoned since 2002, the Syrian native has been cleared for release once the United States finds another country to take him.
During an hourlong hearing in a fourth-floor courtroom Wednesday, Eisenberg and fellow attorney Eric L. Lewis laid the groundwork for their efforts to stop the force-feeding. They're trying to persuade Kessler to issue a temporary injunction, following the judge's earlier decision to lift a temporary restraining order.
Kessler directed attorneys to file written arguments by mid-July concerning the next step.
“I am trying to move things along, everybody,” Kessler said.
According to Dhiab's attorneys, some with the human rights organization Reprieve, he's been forcibly removed from his cell an average of three times a week over the past year in order to receive the force-feeding. Guantanamo authorities deploy what's called a “forcible cell extraction” team to remove detainees who appear resistant.
During the feeding, guards restrain the detainees in chairs and medical technicians snake tubes through their nostrils and into their stomachs so that liquid nutrients may be forced in. The U.S. government refers to the practice as “enteral feedings.”