In Guantanamo hunger strike, military says 13 have been without food since start - NewsOn6.com - Tulsa, OK - News, Weather, Video and Sports - KOTV.com |

In Guantanamo hunger strike, military says 13 have been without food since start

Updated:
(GUANTANAMO BAY NAVAL BASE, Cuba) - Only 13 captives at this remote U.S. military outpost have refused food for all five days of a hunger strike that sometimes has included more than 180 sympathizers, military officials said.

Military spokesmen previously said at least half the strikers apparently were refusing food since Wednesday. The number of strikers peaked Thursday when 194 of the 300 held at the base refused lunch.

The hunger strike began after detainees learned that a guard stripped a fellow detainee of his turban during Tuesday prayers.

The military revealed the new tally Sunday after officials finished a cell-by-cell count of hunger strikers. The number of prisoners refusing to eat has varied by day and by meal.

As the hunger strike entered its sixth day Monday, 83 detainees skipped breakfast. On Sunday night, 82 had skipped dinner.

``We have 13 individuals who have not eaten at all since this hunger strike started,'' said Marine Capt. Joe Kloppel, a spokesman for the detention mission at the U.S. base in southeastern Cuba. ``Others have had at least one meal since this whole thing started.''

The announcement coincided with a visit by FBI Director Robert Mueller, who arrived Sunday afternoon, met with officials at the base and toured the detention compound known as Camp X-ray.

``I am here on a short visit to see how the FBI is working with the other agencies here to question the detainees,'' Mueller told reporters.

The prisoners _ who the U.S. military says belong to the al-Qaida terrorist network and Afghanistan's fallen Taliban regime _ are being interrogated and are not being allowed lawyers.

Military officials say the detainees' underlying concern behind their protest is uncertainty over their indefinite detention.

On Sunday, 91 detainees refused breakfast and 81 declined lunch, officials said.

There is a core group of 66 among the hunger strikers who ``are generally choosing not to eat,'' Marine Maj. Stephen Cox, a spokesman for the detention mission, said Monday.

So far, at least seven detainees have been given liquids with an intravenous drip, one against his wishes, Cox said. Some of them have been treated more than once, he said.

U.S. officials are determining whether and how to prosecute the men. They say those not tried by a military tribunal could be prosecuted in U.S. courts, returned to their home countries for prosecution, released outright, or held indefinitely.

``It's premature for me to discuss the timing of any charges,'' Mueller said before departing Sunday evening. ``I know the Department of Defense is working on the procedures. My expectation is that we will see those procedures in the very near future.''

Mueller said investigators have taken DNA samples from detainees both at Guantanamo and in Afghanistan in the event that some are eventually released. ``We want to be able to identify them,'' he said.

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