Federal judge again orders release of Guantanamo force feeding videos

Federal judge again orders release of Guantanamo force feeding videos

[JURIST] A federal judge who had previously ordered the US to release a series of force-feeding videotapes from Guantanamo Bay [JURIST backgrounder] on Tuesday denied [opinion, PDF] a request by the government to reconsider the order. US District Judge Gladys Kessler [official profile] stated in her opinion that nothing has occurred to change her mind and that holding prisoners for years without pressing charges is a “burning, controversial issue in our country.” Kessler had originally ordered [JURIST report] the tapes released in October 2014, stating, “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.” In September, during the period in which the government was waiting for an answer to their request, eight of 32 videotapes were released [JURIST report]. The video were redacted, removing the voices and faces of the prisoners. They show footage tube feeding conducted by medical and security personnel, and are thought to show Abu Wa’el Dhiab, who filed the suit against the government, being fed through a tube in his nose while in a restraining chair.

In July 2013 four Guantanamo prisoners, including Dhiab, filed a motion [JURIST report] in federal court requesting the judiciary put an end to force feeding as a response to hunger strikes. Later that month Kessler determined [JURIST report] that the district court lacked jurisdiction to address the issue. In May 2014 Kessler ordered [JURIST report] an end to Dhiab’s force feeding while still refusing to rule on the practice as a whole. Kessler then ordered the release of the videotapes in October 2014. Later that month, the Department of Justice (DOJ) filed [JURIST report] a motion to stay the order, which was subsequently denied. The renewed controversy surrounding Guantanamo Bay comes on the heels of the president’s statement that he is still is considering a “wide array” of options for closing the US military prison [JURIST report] in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.