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Accused 9/11 conspirator seeks court delay over treatment by guards

[JURIST] A Guantanamo Bay prisoner accused of involvement in the 9/11 attacks testified on Friday that he has been subject to torment and mistreatment by prison guards. Ramzi bin al Shibh, from Yemen, is facing the death penalty with four other defendants for allegedly providing money and information to the 9/11 hijackers. His attorneys on Wednesday urged [Reuters report] the court to halt proceedings until the guards stop the abuse, which Bin al Shibh says includes noise and vibrations in the floors and walls that prevent him from sleeping or praying. According to Bin al Shibh, the torment has been going on since he arrived in 2006. The prosecution alleges [Reuters report] that he is either lying or delusional, but his attorneys claim that prison guards have ignored a 2013 court order to refrain from abusing him.

News of Bin al Shibh's testimony comes just days after US President Barack Obama [official website] delivered his plan to Congress to close Guantanamo Bay [JURIST report]. Currently, 91 detainees remain in Guantanamo Bay, and 34 await resettlement in foreign countries. In November the US Senate passed [JURIST report] the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2016 (NDAA) [text, PDF], which prohibits Guantanamo detainees from being transferred into the US. Obama signed the bill into law, despite the fact that it could delay his plan to close the prison. The Department of Defense said [JURIST report] in October they were sending teams to review three Colorado prisons as part of Obama's efforts to close the Guantanamo Bay prison in October. The Guantanamo Review Task Force (GRTF) was created in response to a 2009 presidential executive order [text, PDF] to review the status of all detainees. There have been multiple detainees released from Guantanamo recently, following reports that 17 were scheduled for release last month [JURIST report].

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