A guard tower above the entrance to the Camp VI detention facility at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base. The sprawling camp of barbed wire and hardened cell blocks costs U.S. taxpayers about $454 million each year; that comes to about $2.7 million per detainee. / Charles Dharapak, AP
WASHINGTON (AP) - A federal judge has lifted a temporary restraining order that had stopped the U.S. military from force feeding a hunger-striking prisoner at Guantanamo Bay naval base, saying the man's life hangs in the balance.
Late Thursday night, U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler said the military must be allowed to carry out force feeding in the case of Abu Wa'el Dhiab because of the "very real probability that Mr. Dhiab will die."
Lawyers for Dhiab are challenging force feeding during the hunger strike as abusive.
The Defense Department has said the military only feeds prisoners against their will to keep them alive, and follows all laws when it does so.
Kessler says the detainee is willing to be fed at a hospital at Guantanamo Bay if he can be spared what the judge calls the agony of having feeding tubes inserted and removed for each feeding. The judge says the Defense Department refused to make any compromise from current procedure.
On Wednesday, the judge brushed aside the Justice Department's objections and ordered the government to produce 34 videotapes that show Dhiab being forcibly removed from his cell, followed by force feeding the hunger-striking prisoner. In her order Thursday night, she said the court will move quickly in the case to consider the merits. Kessler issued the temporary restraining order a week ago.
"The court is now faced with an anguishing Hobson's choice," Kessler said, in lifting the temporary restraining order.
If she issues another temporary order to stop the forced feeding, Dhiab probably will die, the judge said. Alternatively, allowing the force feeding possibly will result in great pain and suffering, she added.
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