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Last Updated: Friday, 14 October 2005, 23:31 GMT 00:31 UK
Guantanamo lawyers demand access
Prisoner in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba
The Red Cross has expressed concern over the hunger strike
A US judge has heard an emergency petition from lawyers for detainees on hunger strike at Guantanamo Bay calling for greater access to their clients.

They also want to see clients' medical records, and requested that prisoners be allowed to telephone their families.

A defence lawyer told the judge up to 30 prisoners were being forced-fed.

Government lawyer Terry Henry said only seven detainees were being force-fed in hospital. He also said giving prisoners access to family was a security risk.

A further 17 detainees were refusing to eat and drink, some of whom are being fed through a tube, Mr Henry said.

He dismissed allegations of inhumane and cruel treatment of prisoners at the camp in Cuba as "exaggeration" and "misunderstanding".

"Guantanamo is providing adequate medical care," he told US district judge Gladys Kessler.

'Serious' situation

Julia Tarver, who is representing up to 10 Saudi prisoners, told the court that lawyers for prisoners needed "more frequent access to our clients" as well as their medical records.

"The access to clients in this grave situation can't be once a month," she said.

She recently visited Guantanamo Bay and said the hospital conditions were "quite disturbing", with "no medical supervision" and unsterilised equipment.

Ms Tarver estimated between 20 and 30 detainees were being forced-fed intravenously or with feeding tubes, and said 15 others would soon get the same treatment.

Judge Kessler adjourned the emergency session after hearing the arguments. She did not say when she would announce her decision, but lawyers said it was expected next week.

Reports of the hunger strike at Guantanamo Bay first surfaced back in July.

Some defence lawyers say as many as 200 of the 500 or so detainees have refused food.

One British lawyer, Clive Stafford Smith, has accused the American military of shackling patients to their beds in order to insert feeding tubes.

Earlier this month, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said the situation was serious, and it was following it with concern.


SEE ALSO:
ICRC concern at Guantanamo strike
07 Oct 05 |  Americas
US Senate backs detainee rights
06 Oct 05 |  Americas
US plays down Guantanamo strike
01 Oct 05 |  Americas
Clinton urges Guantanamo closure
20 Jun 05 |  Americas
ICRC raises Guantanamo conditions
15 Feb 05 |  Americas
Fresh Guantanamo torture claims
13 Feb 05 |  Asia-Pacific


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