WASHINGTON (AP) – The Justice Department is asking a federal appeals court for more delay in the release of 32 U.S. military videotapes that show guards at Guantánamo Bay forcibly removing a detainee from his cell and subjecting him to forced feedings.
In October, U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler ordered the public release of videos of hunger-striking prisoner Abu Wa’el Dhiab, 43. Kessler postponed the planned release in November at the government’s request.
She also ruled, separately, that the U.S. military didn’t strap the Syrian captive into a restraint chair at the prison to cause him pain or suffering.
In a court filing Tuesday, the government said it is asking the judge to extend any delay in releasing the tapes until the appeal is resolved. The Justice Department said proceeding with a release during the appeal would deprive the government of any meaningful opportunity to contest public disclosure of classified information.
The videotapes are classified “secret.”
Dhiab’s attorney, Cori Crider of the legal defense group Reprieve, reacted angrily to the proposed delay.
“You have to ask who actually watched this footage when making the decision to hide this evidence from the American people,” she said in a statement. “The tapes are a national scandal – but the best approach is to rip off the Band-Aid, confess the mistake, and fix the abuse going on at the base.”
Miami Herald reporter Carol Rosenberg contributed to this report.