Washington, DC (Reprieve) – The U.S. Government has moved to suppress footage of a Guantanamo detainee being force-fed, appealing against a US federal judge’s order to release the tapes.
Solicitor General Donald Verrilli filed the appeal today, January 21st, just one day before the seven year anniversary of President Obama’s signing of the Executive Order to close Guantanamo. Judge Gladys Kessler ordered the tapes be released in October 2014, after sixteen major US media organizations, including the New York Times, AP, and McClatchy newspapers, asked for the tapes to be made public under the First Amendment of the US Constitution.
The tapes show the force-feeding and ‘forcible cell extraction’ of Abu Wa’el Dhiab, who has since been released. Mr Dhiab is represented by international human rights NGO Reprieve. Reprieve lawyers are virtually the only people outside government to have seen the footage and have described it as ‘disturbing’, but are forbidden under classification rules from revealing its contents.
Cori Crider, Reprieve attorney for Guantanamo detainees, said: “It’s disappointing that – yet again – Obama’s lawyers have suppressed the evidence that shows most eloquently why the President is right, and Guantánamo ought to close. I hoped for better from the Solicitor General, and from an Administration that promised to be ‘the most transparent in history’. Make no mistake – the force-feeding tapes would make your blood run cold. One assumes that is why they have fought so hard to keep it secret. We’ll keep pushing for the truth in the Court of Appeals.”
Eric Lewis, attorney and Chair of Reprieve US, said: “It is wrong to hide behind national security concerns when the Government wants to hide its mistaken actions from public view. Our national security requires the release of these tapes, and accountability for the cruel treatment imposed on men trying to call attention to their endless and lawless detention without trial.”
This report was prepared by Reprieve.