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Guantanamo's longest hunger striker says camp guards threatened to kill him, took legal papers

Associated Press
August 12, 2008

GUANTANAMO BAY NAVAL BASE, Cuba (AP) _ A Guantanamo prisoner who has been on a hunger strike for three years claims U.S. guards recently threatened to kill him and took his legal papers, lawyers for the Saudi said Monday.

Ahmed Zaid Zuhair told his lawyers a guard said "he will kill me and chop my body into pieces," while another said, "Don't kill him, but cut off his ears and his nose," according to a translated copy of the letter released by his attorneys.

His lawyers filed the letter with a Washington court as part of a petition seeking the return of the seized legal documents and the right to speak with their client by phone.

A spokeswoman for the detention center, Navy Cmdr. Pauline Storum, said she could not comment specifically on the incident but added that Guantanamo provides "safe and humane, legal and transparent care" of detainees.

"We go to great lengths to facilitate attorney-client privilege," she said.

Zuhair has been on hunger strike since June 2005, according to his lawyers, and the military force-feeds him daily with liquid nutrients to keep him alive.

After the alleged threats, the prisoner says guards searched his legal papers and seized several pages. They then allegedly banged on his cell door throughout the night to keep him awake.

The prisoner does not say what, if anything, prompted the incident. One of his lawyers, Darryl Li, said it appeared to be part of a campaign to end the hunger strike and he said he hoped a judge would hold a hearing to look into it further.

"That way Ahmed can testify about what happened and the judge can ask questions of both sides," said Li, part of a Yale Law School legal team representing Zuhair.

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