Gitmo Hunger Strike Expands

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
March 20 2013 5:18 PM

Number of Guantanamo Prisoners on Hunger Strike Expands to 24

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Lawyers representing Guantanamo prisoners sent a letter to Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel last week asking him to help end the hunger strikes

Photo by JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images

A growing number of prisoners are on hunger strike at the U.S. prison in Guantanamo Bay. A total of 24 prisoners are on hunger strike at the detention camp, a marked increase from 14 on Friday, reports Reuters. Eight of them were being force-fed through feeding tubes, reports CNN. The hunger strikes are apparently a result of frustration that the United States has not closed the prison even though President Obama had vowed to do so. Nearly all of the 166 prisoners at Guantanamo have been held for more than a decade, and half have been cleared for transfer or release.

"They had great optimism that Guantanamo would be closed. They were devastated apparently ... when the president backed off, at least [that's] their perception, of closing the facility," Marine Corps General John Kelly told the House Armed Services Committee today.

The Pentagon has denied reports from lawyers that the health of some prisoners had sharply deteriorated in recent months. One lawyer who represents 15 prisoners says he was shocked when he went to the detention camp in February. "I think every one of the clients I saw had lost 30 pounds or more when I was there," David Remes said. "They were weak and chilled."

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the "Today's Papers" column from 2006 to 2009. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoliti.

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