Obama administration seeks to overturn decision to release controversial Guantanamo Bay force-feeding footage


President Obama’s administration will ask a federal appeals court to overturn a judge’s ruling to release more than 30 videos depicting controversial force-feeding methods used on foreign prisoners held in Guantanamo Bay.

The Justice Department has asked the US appeals court to overturn Judge Gladys Kessler decision to allow the release 32 videos that depict Guantanamo guards forcibly removing a Syrian detainee from his cell and subjecting him to forced feedings.

The videos, classified “secret”, contain footage of hunger-striking prisoner Abu Wa’el Dhiab being subjected to the controversial feeding method intended to prevent prisoners in the detention camp starving to death. Washington rejects that the method is abusive but says the public disclosure of the tapes could “adversely affect security conditions in Afghanistan and Iraq”.

The ruling in October to release the tapes was the first of its kind and followed sustained pressure from more than 15 media organisations who argued that the videos should be made public under the First Amendment of the US Constitution.

But the disclosure was halted at the eleventh-hour after the Justice Department argued releasing the tapes during an appeal period would deprive the government of any meaningful opportunity to contest public release of classified information.

Revelations of force feeding was widely known – but the videos remained a secret until Mr Dhiab sought injunction to the methods, which he contended was a punitive and medically unnecessary push by Guantanamo officials to break a hunger strike that was protesting long-term confinement without charge.

Guantanamo officials have refused to release information about how many of the 142 remaining detainees remain on hunger strike.

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