Defense lawyers are trying to block any attempt to force-feed a Guantanamo Bay prisoner accused of conspiring in the 9/11 attacks, who has stopped eating in protest of his placement in isolation, according to the New York Times. In a legal filing, lawyers say 49-year-old Ramzi bin al-Shibh has been told he could be force-fed—a threat they argue is psychologically traumatizing. Bin al-Shibh is one of five men accused of conspiring in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks who were initially held in secret CIA prisons, where some "were tortured and, when they went on hunger strike, were subjected to a quasi-medical technique of 'rectal refeeding,'" per the Times. Sources tell the outlet that the inmate, who's long complained about improper treatment, was placed in isolation around June 25 after allegedly assaulting another inmate and covering a surveillance camera.
Bin al-Shibh has since refused meals in protest, according to the filing, which requests that he be moved to a place "where his fellow detainees can be aware of what is happening to him." Hunger strikes at Gitmo are common. Every detainee in Camp 6 participated in one around Ramadan this year, Vice reported last month, citing detainees as saying conditions had deteriorated under President Biden. Guards previously force-fed inmates using IV drips and tubes inserted into the stomach through the nose, sometimes using a restraint chair, in what several groups classified as "inherently cruel, inhuman, and degrading" treatment. Without commenting on the likely method, a Defense Department rep tells the Times that medical staff will ensure fasting inmates don't damage their long-term health, but adds none of the prison's 40 detainees are being force-fed now. (Read more Guantanamo Bay stories.)