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Judge orders Guantanamo to stop detainee's forced feedings

By Michael Martinez, CNN
updated 9:36 PM EDT, Fri May 16, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Judge orders Obama administration to stop temporarily a detainee's forced feeding
  • Mohammed Abu Wa'el Dhiab, 42, a Syrian, has been detained since 2002 arrest
  • The Guantanamo base is also ordered to turn over videotaped forced feedings
  • Dhiab was cleared for release in 2009, but he needs a country to take him, group says

(CNN) -- A federal judge ordered the Obama administration Friday to stop temporarily the forced feeding of a detainee at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp and provide videotapes of past such feedings.

U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler ordered the administration to preserve and turn over the videotapes of the forced feeding of detainee Mohammed Abu Wa'el Dhiab between April 9, 2013, and February 19, 2014, according to court documents.

The judge also ordered the federal government to preserve all videotapes of forcible cell extractions of Dhiab.

Dhiab, 42, a Syrian, was arrested in Pakistan in 2002 and has been detained in Guantanamo for more than 10 years, according to the London-based human rights group Reprieve. The group says it has been acting on behalf of Dhiab and his effort to secure 140 to 150 videos.

Reprieve describes a forcible cell extraction as the Guantanamo base's process in which detainees who do not wish to be force-fed are restrained, sometimes "violently," and taken to a force-feeding chair.

The forced feedings are the U.S. government's response to hunger strikes by detainees.

Dhiab, in court filings,seeks an injunction against "abusive" and painful force-feedings.

U.S. Justice Department attorneys argued in court papers that although Dhiab was subject to forced feedings between March 2013 and February 2014, "the medical records during that time period are not material to his current motion for preliminary injunction, which seeks prospective injunctive relief to stop (forced) feeding going forward."

Dhiab also hasn't shown which forcible cell extractions were "unlawful," the government's attorneys said in court papers filed Thursday.

"His motion is completely devoid of any details regarding specific instances of mistreatment. Rather, he has only raised vague and speculative allegations of FCE abuse based almost entirely on statements of other detainees that provide no information about (Dhiab) whatsoever," the Justice Department attorneys said.

Guantanamo, in southeastern Cuba, has been used by U.S. government for detainees suspected of terrorism since the 9/11 attacks in 2001. Dhiab was cleared for release by the Obama administration in 2009 and has never been charged, Reprieve's website said.

Dhiab is in poor health with depression and uses a wheelchair, the rights group said. His return to Syria is now "impossible" because of that country's ongoing civil war, the group said.

"He urgently needs a country to step forward and offer him resettlement so that he can begin his life with his family again, in safety and in peace," Reprieve said.

The judge scheduled a May 21 status conference on the videotapes and forced feedings.

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