Gitmo hunger strike drops to lowest number since protest began, U.S. says |

Gitmo hunger strike drops to lowest number since protest began, U.S. says

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – Four detainees remain on hunger strike at the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, the fewest since the protest began last summer, the military said Wednesday.Three are being force-fed with nasal tubes, said Lt. Col. Jeremy Martin, a spokesman for the detention center at a U.S. base in eastern Cuba.All four are in stable condition, according to Martin, who did not speculate about why detainees dropped out of the protest.”We haven’t changed anything. Our processes and procedures are the same,” he said. “But the numbers have fluctuated.”The military said the strike began with 76 detainees protesting their confinement at the remote, high-security prison and that the number joining the protest reached 131 in mid-September. Defense lawyers say the figures have been higher.Lawyer Julia Tarver Mason, whose firm represents 13 Saudi detainees, said many more than four men may be skipping meals in protest but eating just enough to avoid what the military counts as a hunger strike – missing nine consecutive meals – so they won’t be force-fed.”It’s not about the numbers,” she said. “I don’t think it’s a situation in which some people have gone off the strike because they believe conditions have improved at Guantanamo.”Mason said the four listed as part of the strike are protesting on behalf of other detainees at Guantanamo, where the United States holds some 500 people on suspicion of links to al-Qaida or Afghanistan’s ousted Taliban government.Martin, who called the protest an “al-Qaida tactic” to elicit media attention and to pressure the U.S. government, said that the strikers have access to the International Committee of the Red Cross and are permitted to send and receive mail.Vail, Colorado

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