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9th prisoner dies at Guantanamo; cause under study

Tuesday, September 11, 2012    

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SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — Another prisoner has died at the US Navy base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the US military said yesterday, two days after the man was apparently found unconscious in his cell at the isolated, high-security prison.

Guards administered first aid to the prisoner before he was rushed to a base hospital, where he was declared dead "after extensive lifesaving measures had been performed," the US military's Southern Command said in a brief statement.

The prisoner's name and nationality were not released. But US officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to release his identity, said he was from Yemen.

Experts have yet to determine what caused the early-afternoon death since there were no obvious signs, said Navy Captain Robert Durand, a spokesman for the prison.

"We haven't ruled in or out anything," Durand said. "There is no apparent cause, natural or self-inflicted."

The prisoner was the ninth detainee to die at the facility since it was opened in January 2002 to hold men suspected of terrorism or links to al-Qeida and the Taliban. The military has said two of the previous deaths were by natural causes and six were declared suicides.

Former prisoner Moazzam Begg, now director of the advocacy group Cageprisoners, said the death underscores the bleak outlook for the 167 men held at Guantanamo.

"Almost 11 years since the camp opened few people are concerned whether the men are imprisoned or free, whether they live or die," said Begg, a British citizen who was released in 2005.

The latest death occurred in Camp 5, a section of the prison used mostly to hold prisoners who have broken detention centre rules.

This prisoner had recently splashed a guard with what military officials call a "cocktail," typically a mixture of food and bodily fluids, which is why he was on disciplinary status, Durand said.

He was on a hunger strike earlier this year, but stopped it on June 1 and was at 95 per cent of his ideal body weight and 14 pounds heavier than when he came to Guantanamo, the spokesman said.

Prisoners at Guantanamo include a handful charged with war crimes, including five accused of helping carry out the September 11 terror attack on the US.

More than half the population has been cleared for release, but the Government says it is has been unable to find stable countries to transfer them to.

Military officials have significantly improved conditions for detainees who don't break prison rules, such as providing them with classes and satellite television in a communal section known as Camp 6. But conditions are stark in Camp 5 and a nearby disciplinary annex known as Camp 5 Echo. Both are akin to a maximum-security US prison, the men spending much of each day enclosed in solid-walled cells.

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