Federal judge orders release of Guantanamo force feeding videos

Federal judge orders release of Guantanamo force feeding videos

[JURIST] A judge for the US District Court for the District of Columbia [official website] on Friday ordered [opinion, PDF] the public release of 28 videos showing the forcible removal and forced feeding of Guantanamo Bay detainee Wa’el Dhiab. Dhiab, a Syrian citizen, has been held at Guantanamo since 2002 and has been on a long term hunger strike [JURIST backgrounder] in protest of his detention. US District Judge Gladys Kessler rejected the US Navy’s arguments that releasing the tapes would aid detainees in thwarting security measures, produce propaganda and violate the Geneva convention. She found instead that the decision to disclosure of classified information lies with the judiciary rather than the executive branch stating that,

it is our responsibility, as judges, as part of our obligation under the Constitution, to ensure that any efforts to limit our First Amendment protections are scrutinized with the greatest of care. That responsibility cannot be ignored or abdicated.

Kessler also ordered that the videotapes be withheld until they can be edited to screen names and voices and blur faces and identifying portions of uniforms.

In September the commanding officer of a nurse who refused [JURIST report] to force feed hunger strikers at the Guantanamo detention center [JURIST backgrounder] chose not to court-marshal her. In May Kessler issued an order allowing the military to resume force feeding a detainee [JURIST report], stating that “the court is in no position to make the complex medical decisions necessary” to keep the prisoner alive. In the order, Kessler said that she would not reissue a recent temporary order [JURIST report] that stopped the military from force feeding the Syrian detainee. The detainees’s lawyers argued that the military’s practice of forcibly removing him and other prisoners from their cells, restraining them to a chair and feeding them by inserting tubes into the nose is illegal and abusive.