A federal judge ordered the Obama administration to release 28 video recordings of a Guantanamo Bay prisoner being force fed.
The prisoner, Abu Wa’el Dhiab, a Syrian citizen who has been at Guantanamo since 2002, began his hunger strike 18 months ago. The government started force-feeding him through the nose starting in April 2013, reports the Los Angeles Times.
Dhiab and several other prisoners have sued to have the feedings stopped.
The government, which can appeal the ruling, argued that the tapes would damage national security by revealing the layout of the prison, identifying the guards who carry out the feedings and allowing others to use the videos for anti-U.S. propaganda, writes the LA Times‘s Christine Mai-Duc.
In her opinion, U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler said it “strains credulity to conclude that the release of these videos has a substantial probability of causing the harm the government predicts.”
She said the tapes will be sealed until all the names and faces except Dhiab’s are obscured.
Court documents make clear that Dhiab wants the videos to be public. “I want Americans to see what is going on at the prison today. … If the American people stand for freedom, they should watch these tapes,” he said.
The Associated Press reports:
Dhiab was told in the spring he would be resettled in Uruguay, along with five other Guantanamo prisoners. But as the months have dragged on and the transfer put on hold, his standoff with military officials has only deteriorated, at times turning violent …
Standard protocol at penal institutions nationwide is to videotape forcible cell extractions. What’s unusual about these videotapes is that many of them include footage of force-feedings in addition to forcible cell extractions.
The AP, the LA Times and several other news organizations had asked the court to unseal the documents.