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Thursday, May 31, 2007

Guantanamo detainee dead in suspected suicide
Michael Sung at 7:50 AM ET

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[JURIST] A Saudi Arabian detainee held at the US military prison at Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] died Wednesday afternoon in what military officials characterized as an apparent suicide [US Southern Command press release]. The officials did not identify the detainee or disclose the manner of death. Approximately 80 of the 385 detainees currently held at Guantanamo are from Saudi Arabia. If the death is ruled a suicide, it would be the fourth since the detention facility opened in January 2002. Three other detainees - two Saudis and a Yemeni national - committed suicide at the facility last June. Navy Rear Adm. Harry Harris, the former commander of the Guantanamo Bay detention facilities, has characterized suicides there as acts of "asymmetric warfare" intended to prompt criticism of the United States. Michael Ratner, president of the Center for Constitutionals Rights (CCR) [advocacy website], characterized the latest suicide as a result of "five and half years of desperation... [for detainees] with no legal way out."

A Bahraini detainee held without charges since January 2002 threatened suicide [JURIST report] in a letter released by his lawyer last Sunday, citing despair at his open-ended detention and conditions at the facility. Earlier this month, the US House of Representatives passed an amendment to a defense spending bill that would require the Pentagon to develop a Guantanamo shutdown plan [JURIST report]. AP has more.

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