IN THE PRISON CAMPS

Captive commits suicide in cell

 

crosenberg@miamiherald.com

A Saudi Arabian captive committed suicide at the U.S. detention center in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, on Wednesday -- almost a year after the first suicides at the five-year-old detention center.

The U.S. Southern Command announced the death Wednesday evening, declining to identify the dead man and saying a Navy investigation into the circumstances had already begun.

The man "was found unresponsive and not breathing in his cell by guards. The detainee was pronounced dead by a physician after all lifesaving measures had been exhausted."

The military declined to elaborate on whether the man imitated the method of two Saudis and a Yemeni men who were found hanged in separate single cells on June 10, 2006. They had made nooses from bedsheets. The three men were incarcerated on the same cell block.

The United States holds about 80 Saudi citizens at Guantánamo. They include two Saudi men who had been held in secret CIA custody and were moved to the base last year as so-called high-value detainees, by order of President Bush.

The most famous captive held there, alleged self-confessed 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed, is not Saudi.

Another long-held Saudi captive has been on a hunger strike since October 2005, force-fed through a tube in his nose.

The death occurred just one week after Navy Rear Adm. Harry Harris handed off command of the prison camps to Rear Adm. Mark Buzby. Harris caused an international stir by declaring the suicides last year as an act of "asymmetric warfare" waged by weak al Qaeda captives against an overwhelming force, their U.S. captors.

Lawyers for the men blamed the deaths on despair.

Anant Raut, of Washington, D.C., who represents five captives at Guantánamo in federal courts for several years, called for a reevaluation of conditions at the base, where most captives live in single cells.

He said "as a simple matter of human decency" the United States should abandon its policy of indefinite detention without charge of the vast majority.

Of the 380 or so Muslim captives there, only three have been charged.

"If we're not going to charge them with anything, send them home, " said Raut. "Don't lock them in a hole and take away their hope."

The suicide also occurred five days before a session of the Pentagon's Military Commissions is supposed to formally charge Canadian Omar Khadr, 20, with the 2002 grenade killing of a U.S. soldier in Afghanistan.

But Khadr's Pentagon appointed attorney, Marine Lt. Col. Colby Vokey, said late Wednesday he would not be attending the 8 a.m. session on Monday because Khadr had fired all his American attorneys, both civilian and military.

"He doesn't trust American lawyers, and I don't particularly blame him, " Vokey said. "The United States is responsible for his interrogation and his treatment under a process that is patently unfair."

Khadr, the Toronto-born scion of a fundamentalist Muslim family, has been in U.S. custody since his capture in a firefight in Afghanistan in 2002 at age 15.

He met with two family lawyers from Canada last week, and told them he was firing Vokey and a team of American University law professors who have been suing on his behalf in federal court.

Vokey said late Wednesday in an e-mail that the Pentagon's chief defense counsel, Marine Col. Dwight Sullivan, had relieved him of the duty to defend Khadr -- and that, without a client, Vokey would not be at the hearing.

Read more Guantánamo Special Coverage stories from the Miami Herald

  • Web Extra | A prison camps primer

    The Pentagon has built a series of facilities at Guantánamo Bay since it inaugurated its offshore detention and interrogation center for terrorist suspects in January 2002 by airlifting captives to remote Cuba from Bagram, Afghanistan.

  •  
In this Feb. 2, 2002 file photo, a detainee brought by airlift from Afghanistan is carried on a stretcher before being interrogated by military officials at Camp X-Ray at the U.S. Navy Base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

    GUANTANAMO

    ‘Flouting the rules of law and morality’

    GUANTANAMO BAY NAVY BASE, Cuba — Before this onetime coaling station for the U.S. Navy ships in the Caribbean was transformed into a site holding captives in the war on terror that U.S. officials had called the worst of the worst, most Americans were unaware of its existence.

  •  
These men are among those being force-fed at Guantanamo, according to their lawyers who say they got notice from the Justice Department. Top row from left: Yemeni Tariq Ba Awdah, 34, Syrian Jihad Diyab, 41, Yemeni Mohammed Al-Hamiri, in his 30s. Bottom row rom left: Kuwaiti Fayez Kandari, 35, Yemenis Yasin Ismael and Samir Muqbil, both in their 30s. Five of the photos come from the captives' military intelligence risk assessments obtained by McClatchy from Wikileaks. Kandari's photo was taken by the International Red Cross and released by his family.

    Who's still being held at Guantánamo

    Here is a comprehensive list of who is still held at the Guantánamo detention center in Cuba. McClatchy determined who was still there using both sources and court records as well as secret intelligence files obtained by WikiLeaks and passed to McClatchy.

Miami Herald

Join the
Discussion

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category