US re­sists im­me­di­ate re­lease for hunger striker from Guan­tanamo

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL -

The ad­min­is­tra­tion of U. S. Pres­i­dent Barack Obama urged a judge on Fri­day not to or­der the re­lease of a pris­oner at Guan­tanamo Bay who has been on hunger strike for more than eight years and is de­scribed by his lawyers as be­ing at risk of im­mi­nent death.

U.S. Jus­tice Depart­ment lawyers ar­gued against the im­me­di­ate re­lease of Ye­meni pris­oner Tariq Ba Odah in a sealed court fil­ing de­liv­ered to a court in Washington just ahead of a dead­line.

A Jus­tice Depart­ment state­ment said the fil­ing is sealed be­cause it deals with a de­tainee’s med­i­cal is­sues and a public ver­sion will be re­leased later.

Ba Odah has been held at the U.S. mil­i­tary base in Guan­tanamo Bay, Cuba, with­out charge as a sus­pected af­fil­i­ate of al- Qaida since Jan­uary 2002. He has been cleared for trans­fer back to his home­land but no pris­on­ers are be­ing sent to Ye­men be­cause of in­sta­bil­ity there.

He has been on hunger strike to protest his in­def­i­nite con­fine­ment since Fe­bru­ary 2007 and has been force-fed liq­uid nu­tri­ents to pre­vent him from starv­ing to death. Still, his weight has dropped to around 34 kilo­grams, said Omar Farah, an at­tor­ney with the New York-based Cen­ter for Con­sti­tu­tional Rights who rep­re­sents him.

Ba Odah, who is about 37, is 160 cen­time­ters and is at 56 per­cent of his ideal body weight, said Fara, who sought a writ of habeas cor­pus that would al­low him to be im­me­di­ately re­leased.

“All the pres­i­dent has to de­cide is whether to ex­er­cise his dis­cre­tion not to con­test the mo­tion and re­lease Mr. Ba Odah so that he does not die,” Fara said.

The ad­min­is­tra­tion, which has sought to close the de­ten­tion cen­ter at Guan­tanamo but has been blocked by Congress, did not say pub­licly why it op­poses an or­der im­me­di­ately re­leas­ing Ba Odah. The Jus­tice Depart­ment state­ment said the gov­ern­ment “re­mains com­mit­ted to promptly se­cur­ing an ap­pro­pri­ate lo­ca­tion to which Pe­ti­tioner Ba Odah can be trans­ferred.”

The U.S. holds 116 pris­on­ers at Guan­tanamo, in­clud­ing 69 from Ye­men.

AP

In this Nov. 21, 2013 file photo re­viewed by the U.S. mil­i­tary, dawn ar­rives at the now closed Camp X-Ray, which was used as the first de­ten­tion fa­cil­ity for al-Qaida and Tal­iban mil­i­tants who were cap­tured af­ter the Sept. 11 at­tacks at Guan­tanamo Bay Naval Base, Cuba.

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