MIAMI (AP) — A prisoner at the Guantanamo Bay naval base will not attend an upcoming review board hearing because he does not want to submit to what he considers an overly intrusive body search, according to a statement released Friday from a military official appointed to represent him.
Mohammed al-Shimrani, who has been held at the U.S. base in Cuba without charge for 12 years, is scheduled to appear Monday before the Periodic Review Board, which is to consider whether he can be transferred back to his native Saudi Arabia. The review process began last year as part of a renewed effort by President Barack Obama to close the prison and the board is expected to evaluate about half of the 154 men still held there.
Al-Shimrani says he will not attend because of the body search, in which guards touch the area near his genitals, is "humiliating and degrading," according to the statement.
The personal representative, a military officer appointed to represent him at the review board, said the prisoner has refused meetings at the prison and turned down dental appointments because of the searches.
Lawyers for prisoners have said in the past that prisoners at Guantanamo have refused meetings and phone calls because of the searches, which are required each time they move from one section of the prison to another.
In July 2013, in response to a legal challenge, U.S. District Court Judge Royce Lamberth found that the searches were blocking prisoners' access to counsel and ordered the military to halt the practice. The government appealed to a higher court, arguing that the searches, imposed after a detainee suicide, are necessary to prevent the smuggling of contraband within Guantanamo. A ruling is pending.
The Periodic Review Board can go on without the participation of al-Shimrani, 39, who has been held at Guantanamo since January 2002 as a suspected member of al-Qaeda and the Taliban.