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US judge temporarily halts Guantánamo force-feeding

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gitmo forced feedingA US federal judge has temporarily blocked the military from force-feeding a Syrian prisoner on hunger strike at the Guantánamo Bay prison camp.

It is the first time a judge has ordered a halt to force-feeding of a prisoner in Guantánamo, where last year as many as 46 of 166 inmates were force-fed at least some of their meals during a hunger strike. Several sued.

US district court judge Gladys Kessler on Friday ordered the US government to stop force-feeding Abu Wa'el Dhiab until a hearing next Wednesday. She also ordered the military to stop extracting him from his cell if he refused to go to feedings.

The judge said the government must also preserve all videotape evidence of forcible cell extractions and force-feeding until the hearing.

The procedure, designed to keep hunger strikers alive, involves feeding them liquid meals via tubes inserted into their noses and down into their stomachs.

"While the department follows the law and only applies enteral feeding in order to preserve life, we will, of course, comply with the judge's order here," defence department spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Todd Breasseale said in reaction to the ruling.


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