A federal judge dismissed a plea by the U.S. Department of Justice calling for a closed hearing into the force-feeding of prisoners on hunger strike at Guantanamo Bay, according to media reports published Friday.
In a ruling Thursday, U.S. District Court Judge Gladys Kessler rejected the government’s arguments that an open hearing will jeopardize national security and result in disclosure of classified information.
“In prior hearings before this court, counsel and the Court have dealt carefully and professionally with classified, protected and public information. The courtroom has been sealed without any problems whenever necessary to discuss classified and protected information,” Kessler wrote in her ruling. “With such a long-standing and ongoing public interest at stake, it would be particularly egregious to bar the public from observing the credibility of live witnesses, the substance of their testimony, whether proper procedures are being followed, and whether the Court is treating all participants fairly.”
The justice department had, on Monday, filed a plea asking for the hearing on the alleged practice of force-feeding Guantanamo Bay detainees on hunger strike to be closed to public as the case includes “inextricably intertwined classified, protected and unclassified information,” according to a report by The Guardian.
However, attorneys for Abu Wa’el Dhiab -- a Syrian national who’s on a hunger strike protesting his internment at Guantanamo Bay -- reportedly said that the government was using the excuse of national security to cover-up the true extent of force-feeding at the facility which, they claim, is abusive and tantamount to torture.
Dhiab has allegedly been detained at the Guantanamo without any charges for over 12 years since his arrest in 2002.
President Barack Obama had signed an executive order in 2009 to close the detention facilities at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba within a year. However, five years later, the prison still remains open, housing nearly 150 inmates, many of whom have reportedly resorted to hunger strikes to protest their detention without being charged.