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Guantanamo prisoner demands 'civilized' force-feedings: court filing

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A Syrian prisoner at the U.S. detention center in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, said in a court petition on Tuesday that his force-feedings amounted to torture and asked a judge to order his jailers to make them "civilized."

In a petition to a U.S. District Court in Washington, a lawyer for Abu Wa'el Dhiab said his client did not object to being force-fed in order to keep him alive, but objected to the methods being used.

"I am willing to be force-fed in a humane manner," attorney Jon Eisenberg quoted his client as saying.

"Is it necessary for them to torture me? Is it necessary for them to choke me every day with the tube? Is it necessary for them to make my throat so swollen every day? Do I have to suffer every day?" the lawyer wrote, telling the court that the quotations represented his best reconstruction of a June 1 phone call with Dhiab.

U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler ruled last month that the U.S. military could resume force-feeding Dhiab as his physical condition was rapidly deteriorating. A previous court order had temporarily halted the feedings.

Dhiab's lawyers have argued that the practice of forcibly extracting him and other prisoners from their cells, restraining them and feeding them through a tube inserted into their noses is illegal and abusive.

Since the court ruling, the petition said, Dhiab has been taken from his cell for force-feedings by a new team of guards that the prisoner described as "really evil."

He said he was "harshly choked" during cell extractions on May 29 and May 30, the petition said.

"I thought they would choke me to death because they were handling me so roughly," the petition quoted Dhiab as saying.

Dhiab said the force-feedings are painful, sometimes start nosebleeds and cause pain in his ailing kidneys.

The force-feedings will not become humane, Dhiab said, "unless there is a very firm and clear order from the judge."

Prisoners at the Guantanamo Bay naval base have engaged in hunger strikes for years, but only won the right to challenge in U.S. courts the military's practices of forcing them to eat in February. Dhiab's lawyers are ultimately seeking an order that would force the military to change the practices.

(Reporting by Jim Loney and Aruna Viswanatha)

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