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Guantanamo captives cleared for release years ago

| Thursday, May 2, 2013, 9:36 p.m.

At least four of the captives being force-fed at Guantanamo were cleared for release years ago.

As of Wednesday, the U.S. prison in Cuba classified 100 of its 166 captives as hunger strikers, according to Army Lt. Col. Samuel House, a prison spokesman. Navy medical workers were administering tube feedings to 23 of the hunger strikers, four of them in the prison hospital.

Prison officials have refused to name any of the hunger strikers. But the Justice Department has been notifying the attorneys of prisoners who have become so malnourished that they require the tube feedings.

Attorneys for nine of the men told The Miami Herald of their identities.

One is Mohammed al-Hamiri, a Yemeni man in his 30s whose lawyer, Omar Farah, says he was told by the Justice Department that his client is “on hunger strike and is being force-fed.” Hamiri is also one of 55 men that the Justice Department has named, separately, in federal court filings as eligible for release.

In 2009, the Obama administration assembled a task force of representatives from federal agencies, including the CIA, FBI and Pentagon, to examine the files of the detainees brought to Guantánamo during the Bush years.

The task force concluded that 46 of the 166 men now there should be held indefinitely, without trial or charge.

But it found that 56 were eligible for transfer and another 30 might be eligible for transfer if certain conditions were met.

The majority are Yemeni men, like Hamiri, whose transfer has been put on hold by a combination of congressional restrictions on releases and a White House freeze on transfers in particular to Yemen, which has a fervent al-Qaida franchise called al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula.

Hunger strike figures rose steadily after April 13, when soldiers stormed into Guantanamo's showcase communal prison and put nearly every captive in the complex under lockdown.

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