Human rights lawyers on Tuesday filed an emergency motion [text, PDF] in the US District Court for the District of Columbia [official website] alleging that guards at Guantanamo Bay [JURIST backgrounder] have denied drinking water and sufficient clothing to a Yemeni prisoner. The motion was filed only a day before a fact-finding visit to the US detention center in Cuba by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) [official website], and the lawyers contend that such treatment is being used to undermine an ongoing hunger strike [RT timeline] by Musa'ab Omar al-Madhwani and 30 additional inmates. In support of their argument that al-Madhwani's issue is a matter of life and death, his lawyers also attached to the motion an affidavit from psychiatrist and retired general Stephen Xenakis [PHR backgrounder], who opined that the hunger protest and lack of adequate drinking water increases the prisoners' chance of incurring "gastrointestinal infections and a quick demise." Although the US Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website] has not yet filed a response to the motion, a spokesperson for the prison is reported to have said [AP report] that all prisoners are provided with bottled water and that the tap water is safe to drink. White House Principal Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest [official profile] on Wednesday told reporters [press briefing transcript] that President Barack Obama [official website] and his administration are "closely monitoring the hunger strikes at Guantanamo Bay."
Earlier this month, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) [advocacy website] and defense lawyers for terrorism detainees held at Guantanamo Bay sent a letter [JURIST report] to Rear Admiral John Smith Jr. [official profile] describing harsh conditions faced by the detainees and indicated that the detainees have begun to protest the conditions via hunger strike. The lawyers learned of these practices and protests after being permitted to visit [JURIST report] the detention center in February, though Guantanamo has long been the subject of various controversies during the Global War on Terror [JURIST backgrounder]. Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] contends that the 32-year-old al-Madhwani has been held without cause at Guantanamo Bay [AI report] for more than a decade, where he was sent shortly following his arrest by Pakistani security forces on September 11, 2002. In May 2011, the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit [official website] affirmed a lower court's decision confirming that al-Madhwani was lawfully detained [JURIST report] for being part of al Qaeda. In December 2009, the district court denied al-Madwani's habeas corpus petition, ruling that the government may continue to detain him.