Force-fed Guantanamo inmate abusive, U.S. government says

Reuters News
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Posted: Oct 08, 2014 5:29 PM

By Lacey Johnson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A Syrian inmate on a hunger strike at Guantanamo Bay prison who is seeking more humane force-feeding has a history of assaulting guards and staff, U.S. government lawyers said on Wednesday.

The prisoner, Abu Wa'el Dhiab, 43, has been held at the prison in Cuba without charges for 12 years. He was cleared for release in 2009 but the process has stalled as the United States looks for another country to take him.

During the hearing in U.S. District Court, Dhiab's lawyers have said the practice of forcibly removing him from his cell, restraining him in a chair and feeding him through a nasal tube up to twice a day is illegal and abusive.

They are seeking a court order that would make the force-feedings more humane by allowing Dhiab to be tube fed without using five-point restraints, among other requests.

Government lawyers presented their case for why Dhiab should continue to be strapped into a restraint chair for the feedings. They cited records that he assaulted guards and medical staff as recently as April.

Dhiab has used "abusive language" towards medical staff, threatened to spit on a nurse, struck guards and "splashed them with feces or vomit," said Andrew Warden, reading aloud from prison records on the last day of the hearing.

Warden also shared testimony from the prison's senior medical officer, who wrote that the restraint chairs "are ergonomically designed for the detainees' comfort and protection."

Dhiab is among dozens of detainees who have gone on a hunger strike, according to government records.

U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler asked for closing briefs to be submitted by Oct. 17. Much of Wednesday's session was closed for review of top-secret security materials, including videotapes of force-feeding.

Medical records presented on Monday showed that Dhiab has suffered from nose bleeds, chronic back pain, blood in his urine and other medical problems.

(Reporting by Ian Simpson; Editing by Sandra Maler)