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Gitmo nurse who refused to force-feed may face court martial

A screen grab from a military handout video dated April 10, 2013, offers a rare glimpse of a restraint chair used for forced feedings in the prison camps psychiatric ward, called the Behavioral Medical Unit, at the U.S. Navy base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

A Navy nurse who refused to force-feed hunger strikers at Guantánamo has been sent back to the United States with no resolution of his case.

The nurse has never been identified. Last month, a lawyer for a cleared, force-fed hunger striker told the story of the Navy lieutenant, a nurse, who refused to take part in the feedings — and the military confirmed it.

Guantánamo detainee Abu Wael Dhiab described him as perhaps 40 years old and Latino, an officer who at first willingly administered tube feedings to detainees, but over time became a conscientious objector.

The officer was then assigned to administrative duties at Joint Task Force-Guantánamo, or the JTF as the prison is known, while the commander decided what to do with him.

The officer has not been charged with any violations. But, Army Col. Greg Julian at the U.S. Southern Command, which has oversight of the prison, said Friday: “He was administratively separated from the JTF and he’s pending court martial.”

The detention center has about 140 Navy medical staff to treat the detainees who, as of Friday, numbered 149 foreign men — an undisclosed number of them on hunger strike. Most medical staff are sent there for temporary, six-month assignments.

The protesting nurse did not complete his full tour of duty. “His orders were modified,” said Lt. Cmdr. Sarah Flaherty, a Navy spokeswoman. “And so he came home early from temporary duty.”

His home base is in the northeastern United States.

©2014 The Miami Herald. Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

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