Appeals court declines to get involved in case regarding Guantanamo video footage

Appeals court declines to get involved in case regarding Guantanamo video footage

[JURIST] The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit [official website] on Friday decided [opinion, PDF] not to get involved, for the time being, in a case regarding whether the public should have access to video footage showing a Guantanamo [JURIST backgrounder] detainee being force-fed. The court concluded that it was without jurisdiction to issue orders regarding the videotapes. “We cannot reach the merits of this appeal … because it is premature,” the court stated in its opinion. The videotapes are of Abu Wa’el Dhiab, who was captured in Pakistan in 2002 and subsequently sent to Guantanamo Bay. Dhiab was cleared for release by the Guantanamo Review Task Force [report, PDF] in 2009, but he remained at the prison until last year. In 2013, while still awaiting his release, he participated in a hunger strike with other inmates, which prompted guards to begin force-feeding them. Dhiab, who currently lives in Uruguay, originally filed his lawsuit to stop the force-feedings, but now has shifted the focus to making the videotapes available to the public.

Dhiab’s ordeal regarding force-feeding at Guantanamo Bay has been ongoing for over a year now. In October the US Department of Justice filed a motion [JURIST report] in the US District Court for the District of Columbia seeking to stay an order issued by the court earlier that month requiring the public release of the Dhiab videos. In May 2014 the same court ordered [JURIST report] officials in Guantanamo Bay to temporarily suspend forced feedings of Dhiab. However, a week later Judge Gladys Kessler issued an order [JURIST report] allowing the military to resume force feeding Dhiab, stating that “the court is in no position to make the complex medical decisions necessary” to keep the prisoner alive.