First Nurse Refuses to Force Feed Guantanamo Bay Prisoners

A Navy nurse at Guantanamo Bay refused to force feed inmates on hunger strike, a prisoner at the facility told his lawyer.  

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According to the lawyer of a prisoner at Guantanamo Bay, a Navy nurse refused to force feed inmates on a hunger strike, The Miami Herald reported Tuesday.

“There was a recent instance of a medical provider not willing to carry-out the enteral feeding of a detainee. The matter is in the hands of the individual’s leadership,” the Pentagon told TIME. “The service member has been temporarily assigned to alternate duties with no impact to medical support operations.”

Abu Wa'el Dhiab, who has been a prisoner at the U.S. detention center since 2002, told his lawyer the nurse's refusal to carry out the feeding was an objection to the facilities policy of force-feeding inmates currently on an 18 month hunger strike. Prisoners are protesting the American policy of holding many of them indefinitely as well as delaying their release dates.  President Obama vowed to close the facility in 2008 but has struggled to do so. 

Dhiab's attorney, Cori Crider told CNN that her client described the decision not to carry out the feeding of inmates as a moral and ethical protest against the policy.

"Initially, he did carry out his orders and participate in the tube feedings. But when he came, as soon as he saw what was happening, he started talking to the brothers," Dhiab was quoted as telling Crider. "He explained to us: 'Before we came here, we were told a different story. The story we were told was completely the opposite of what I saw.' Once he saw with his own eyes that what he was told was contrary to what was actually taking place here, he decided he could not do it anymore."

Dhiab is challenging the force-feeding policy in court, the Miami Herald reported. The Pentagon says the process is designed to keep patients from starving to death.

In daily feedings a Guantanamo inmate is forcibly shackled and tied to a chair where they are administered nutritional supplements by Navy medical personnel from a tube running through their nose, down their throat and into their stomach. 

Federal judge, Gladys Kessler, who flip-flopped on Dhiab's challenge of the legality of the force feeding policies in May will hold a hearing on the issue later this summer. At that time she'll also rule on permitting news organizations access to a video that reportedly shows prison guards tackling and detaining inmates prior to feedings.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.