SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico, AP – Five Kuwaiti detainees participating in a hunger strike at the U.S. prison for terror suspects at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, have lost substantial weight and were pale and depressed during a recent visit, lawyers said Wednesday.
All five pledged to starve to death unless they are released or brought to trial, and two were being force fed, according to attorneys Tom Wilner and Kristine Huskey, who received a court order allowing them to visit their clients at the base last week.
"They both look like skeletons," Wilner said of the two who were being tube fed.
Detention center spokesman Sgt. Justin Behrens said the military does not comment on the conditions of individual prisoners — and the U.S. has not disclosed which Guantanamo detainees have joined the hunger strike that began on Aug. 8.
The number of those participating has dropped to 36 detainees — from a high of 131 — and all are in stable condition, Behrens said.
At Guantanamo, the U.S. military holds about 500 detainees suspected of links to the al-Qaida terror network or Afghanistan”s ousted Taliban regime. Four of the prisoners have been charged and the military said Tuesday that it will proceed next month with a military trial against David M. Hicks, an Australian charged with conspiracy, attempted murder and aiding the enemy.
One of the force-fed detainees, Fawzi al Odah, could barely sit up while they interviewed him, Wilner said.
Reading from notes of the interview, Wilner quotes al Odah as saying "We have no faith in the courts and this is the only thing we can do. If I die, it will be better than this hell."
They said another of the detainees, Abdullah al Kandari, had eaten nothing in 15 days and had lost substantial weight. "He was bleary-eyed. He could barely talk," Wilner said.
The lawyers identified the other Kuwaitis participating in the strike as Mohammed al Dahaini, Sa”ad al Azmi and Abdulazziz al Shammari, who was the other one being force-fed. It could not be determined whether the men were still taking part, though their attorneys said the detainees had no intention of halting the protest.