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Guantanamo detainee threatens suicide in new letter

[JURIST] Jumah Muhammad al-Dossari [AI backgrounder], a Bahraini detainee that has been held at Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] without charges since January 2002, threatened in a letter released Sunday by his lawyer that if he had "the opportunity [he] would end [his] life" due to the despair over his open-ended detention and the conditions at the facility. Al-Dossari also alleged that the detainees "face the most horrible type of oppression and physical torture." The letter was cleared for release by the US government and made public by lawyer Joshua Colangelo-Bryan [corporate profile]. Pentagon spokesperson Navy Cmdr. Jeffrey Gordan denied allegations of abuse, saying that all detainees are treated humanely and that al qaeda has trained its operatives to make allegations of abuse as a tactic to "gain public sympathy in the hopes that they may be released." Al-Dossari has tried to kill himself at least 10 times.

Al-Dossari, who has been deemed an "enemy combatant" [JURIST news archive] by the Combatant Status Review Tribunal (CSRT) [DOD materials; Al-Dossari case material, PDF], is one of approximately 385 detainees currently held at Guantanamo. Pentagon officials say that they plan to try approximately 80 detainees under the framework created by the Military Commissions Act of 2006 [PDF text], and transfer another 80 detainees to other countries. The remaining detainees are in legal limbo. Last Friday, the US House of Representatives passed an amendment to a defense spending bill requiring the Pentagon to develop a Guantanamo shutdown plan [JURIST report]. In November 2005, Colangelo-Bryan witnessed a suicide attempt [JURIST report] by al-Dossari, which human rights advocates characterized as a cry for help meant to reach outside the base. US military officials have alternatively painted hunger strikes [JURIST news archive] and suicide attempts as instances of "asymmetric warfare" designed to elicit media attention and bring pressure on the US government. AP has more

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