Page last updated at 21:31 GMT, Thursday, 11 June 2009 22:31 UK

'Shoe bomber' is on hunger strike

Richard Reid in 2001
Richard Reid says the restrictions hinder him practising his faith

A man jailed in the US for trying to blow up an airliner with explosives hidden in his shoes has gone on hunger strike, court papers have revealed.

Briton Richard Reid is said to have been refusing food for several weeks and is being force-fed and hydrated.

Reid, 35, is currently taking legal action against prison restrictions which, he says, prevent him from practising his Sunni Muslim faith.

He is serving three life sentences at the Supermax prison in Colorado.

Details of the hunger strike were revealed in court documents made public in Reid's lawsuit.

However, federal prison officials would not reveal if his refusing food is connected to the court case.

Reid claims he has been under special restrictions since arriving at the jail in February 2003.

His lawsuit says the restrictions include prohibiting group prayer with other Muslim inmates, a ban on contacting journalists and limiting access to a Muslim imam.

However, recently released court documents suggest the restrictions are due to expire next Wednesday.

But it is unclear whether this has any connection to Reid's hunger strike or the court case - or whether the restrictions could be renewed before then.

'Security reasons'

The US justice department told the District Court judge in Denver overseeing the lawsuit that the restrictions were required for security reasons.

They include denying visits that other inmates are allowed, and tight controls on written and telephone communication with lawyers and others outside prison.

Regarding the denial of group prayer, the department says it is concerned Reid might pray with inmates who were co-conspirators of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.

A government lawyer said that Reid had refused 58 meals by 9 April and that prison officials decided "that medical intervention was necessary".

The lawyer added that prison officials were monitoring his condition.

Reid was sentenced in 2003 in Boston for trying to detonate two bombs in his shoes on an American Airlines flight from Paris to Miami.

He was overpowered by passengers and crew after they saw him trying to light a fuse protruding from one of his shoes.

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