Guantanamo guard commander defends prison water

AP News
Posted: Mar 28, 2013 5:01 PM

MIAMI (AP) — The guard force commander at Guantanamo Bay said Thursday that there's nothing wrong with the tap water there despite prisoner claims to the contrary.

Water is desalinated on the U.S. base in Cuba and checked at least once a month to make sure it's safe, according to Army Col. John Bogdan.

"It is the same water that I drink daily," Bogdam said in a sworn statement.

The government filed the statement Thursday in federal court in Washington in response to claims by prisoners that they have been denied potable drinking water and that the air conditioning was being kept frigid to punish them during a hunger strike.

Defense lawyers for the inmates filed an emergency motion in federal court after interviewing Yemeni prisoner Musaab al-Madhwani on Monday. He had told them guards were refusing to provide bottled water and telling prisoners to drink from tap water that inmates believe is non-potable.

The U.S. military disputes the claims and says prisoners are also offered bottled water. Thirty-three of the 166 prisoners are on hunger strike, according to the military.

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A federal judge noted the conflicting accounts and scheduled a hearing in his Washington courtroom for April 15.

Mari Newman, a human rights lawyer based in Denver, said she spoke to al-Madhwani on Thursday by phone and he said he is now receiving bottled water. But she said he claimed that guards were withholding water from other detainees.