The United States military has turned off Wi-Fi service and blocked access to social networks at Guantanamo Bay detention camp following threats from the hacktivist collective Anonymous. Army Lt. Col. Samuel House confirmed the measures Monday, saying Wi-Fi service had been suspended as “a precautionary move,” the Associated Press reported.
The move came three days after Anonymous launched “Operation Guantanamo,” a hacking offensive aimed at displaying solidarity with prisoners who are currently on a hunger strike, protesting their indefinite detention and treatment at the facility. According to the BBC, Anonymous’s participation began on May 18, the 100th day of the hunger strike.
The fast, which has put added pressure on President Barack Obama to fulfill his pledge to shut down the detention center, gained widespread attention in April when Samir Naji al Hasan Moqbel, a Yemeni inmate, penned an opinion a piece for the New York Times in which he detailed the gruesome force-feeding process.
“I’ve been detained at Guantánamo for 11 years and three months,” Moqbel wrote. “I have never been charged with any crime. I have never received a trial. I could have been home years ago — no one seriously thinks I am a threat — but still I am here.”
Anonymous announced the planned attack on May 6, describing the detention center, in a statement on the Anon Insiders website, as “an ongoing war crime,” and writing that the organization could “no longer tolerate this atrocity” and would shut it down. “We are outraged. We, the people and Anonymous, will not allow the most expensive prison on earth to be run without any respect for international laws. We stand in solidarity with the Guantanamo hunger strikers. We will shut down Guantanamo.”
After its launch, the campaign, which has been dubbed #OpGtmo on Twitter, began trending across the globe. Participants were also encouraged by Anonymous to engage in “twitterstorms, email bombs, and fax bombs.”
According to a recent report by ABC News, military officials have confirmed that 103 of the facility’s 166 inmates are currently on hunger strike. Thirty of those strikers are now reportedly being force-fed, a process which itself has garnered criticism. In a report for Al Jazeera, Jason Leopold, a freelance journalist who covers issues related to Guantanamo Bay, noted that recent changes in force-feeding protocol (the military reportedly revised their standard operating procedure one month after the strike began) have shifted the responsibility of determining who is a hunger striker away from the facility’s chief medical officer and onto the military commander.
View Anonymous’s video announcing the campaign below.