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Tapes could prove inhuman treatment at Guantanamo, says detainee's lawyer

October 10th, 2014
11:14 AM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

Tapes that show the force-feeding of prisoners at Guantanamo bay will show the world that it is “cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment,” a lawyer for one of the prisoners told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Thursday.

“Doing it day after day, to people who are suffering a great deal of pain, it can rise to the level of torture, I think,” Cori Crider said.

Her client, Abu Wa’el Dhiab, was cleared for release from the prison camp in 2009 but is yet to be freed, among a morass of toxic bureaucracy and politics.

To protest his imprisonment and treatment, he and several other prisoners are on long-term hunger-strike; the U.S. military forcibly feeds them, with a tube inserted through the nose into the stomach, twice a day.

Crider and the human rights group Reprieve successfully sued the government to release the videos, and a federal judge on Thursday said that the military has until October 17 to redact the videos for release to the public.

“The American people and the rest of the world should be permitted to watch the tapes, see the truth, and decide for themselves,” she said.

Military officials have said that the method they use to feed hunger-strikers is the same as what is done to patients in American hospitals.

“That's just false,” Crider said. “We actually had three doctors testify under oath that the way Guantanamo prisoners are force-fed is punitive and it's cruel and it's nothing like what would happen in a regular hospital in the mainland.”

“Dr. Stephen Miles testified, for example, that it is almost unheard of to pass that tube down a prisoner's nose into his stomach twice a day, every day.”

“And certainly prisoners and other hospital patients on the mainland are not being hauled around all of the time for their force-feedings by a so-called forcible cell extraction team – a group of soldiers in riot gear, who take my client and truss him up like an animal and haul him to force-feeding.”

“Those practices are punitive, they're not medical, and they have to be stopped.”

Crider said that Dhiab’s hunger strike is a natural reaction to the circumstances with which he was presented – “held without charge or trial for a dozen years” – and that experts have testified that he does not want to die, but rather wants his treatment to change.

“The problem with the way that the military authorities at Guantanamo respond to the hunger strike is they don't see it as a cry of humanity; they don't recognize it as a legitimate protest. They barely even use the word ‘hunger strike.’ They call it a ‘non-religious long-term fast.’”

“So their whole approach to the problem is to treat this as a disciplinary issue and to try to stamp it out. That creates a needlessly confrontational environment.”

The rise of ISIS in Syria and Iraq, and their brutal executions of Western journalists and aid workers, has put renewed focus on Guantanamo; each time they have filmed one of their executions, they have dressed their victim in the orange jumpsuit made infamous by Gitmo.

Seeing that, Crider said, “makes me feel absolutely terrible, as I think any human would feel terrible.”

“I also think it's a sign of the way that Guantanamo has just created so much hatred around the world. It is really a symbol at this point for United States hypocrisy.”

“And I think it's pretty clear that extremists of all stripes have exploited that hypocrisy. It's one of many reasons that we think that the prison needs to be closed as soon as possible.”

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