MIAMI - At least four captives being force-fed at Guantanamo were cleared for release years ago.
As of Thursday, the U.S. prison in southeast Cuba classified 100 of its 166 captives as hunger strikers, according to Army Lt. Col. Samuel House, a prison spokesman. Navy medical workers were administering tube feedings to 23 of the hunger strikers, four at the prison hospital.
Prison officials have declined to name any of the hunger strikers. But the Justice Department has been notifying the attorneys of prisoners who have become so malnourished that they require the tube feedings.
Attorneys for nine of the men notified the Miami Herald of their identities.
One is Mohammed al-Hamiri, a Yemeni man in his 30s whose New York lawyer, Omar Farah, says he was told by the Justice Department that his client is "on hunger strike and is being force-fed." Hamiri is also one of 55 men that the Justice Department has named, separately, in federal court filings as eligible for release.
In 2009, the Obama administration assembled a task force of representatives from federal agencies, including the CIA, FBI, and Pentagon, to examine the files of the detainees brought to Guantanamo during the Bush years.
It concluded that 46 of the 166 men now there should be held indefinitely, without trial or charge.
But it found that 56 were eligible for transfer and an additional 30 might be eligible for transfer if certain conditions were met. The majority are Yemeni men, like Hamiri, whose transfer has been put on hold by a combination of congressional restrictions on releases and a White House freeze on transfers in particular to Yemen, which has a fervent al-Qaeda franchise called al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.
Others identified by attorneys as being force-fed include: Ahmed Bel Bacha, 44, an Algerian; Jihad Diyab, 41, a Syrian; and Nabil Hadjarab, 33, an Algerian. The administration disclosed last year that all three had been cleared for release.
The prison has been wracked by hunger strikes almost from the start, with the most widespread known strike in 2005 when, according to House, 142 detainees were on a hunger strike out of a population of 575.