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A US federal judge has ordered the disclosure of videotapes that show the force feeding of an inmate on hunger strike at the Guantánamo Bay detention facility.
Days before the first legal challenge to the force feeding was due to begin, Judge Gladys Kessler of the Washington DC district court on Friday ordered the US government to prepare public versions of 28 videos showing a Syrian detainee, Abu Wa’el Dhiab, forcibly removed from his cell and fed through a tube inserted through his nose into his stomach.
Kessler’s ruling came after a coalition of media organisations, including the Guardian, applied for disclosure of unclassified versions of tapes that the US government has never made available.
The Justice Department and the military only acknowledged the existence of the tapes last year in filings to Kessler.
The tapes will provide unprecedented visibility into a practice that Dhiab and other detainees says amounts to torture, a claim categorically rejected by the Obama administration and the military.
While the government is expected to appeal the decision later on Friday, Kessler ordered that the public versions of the tapes to be released obscure “all faces other than Mr Dhiab’s, voices, names, etc.” The unclassified version of the videos “may then be entered on the public docket,” Kessler wrote.