WASHINGTON -- In the midst of an ongoing hunger strike, the military is denying reporters access to the prison camps at Guantanamo Bay.
The military is telling reporters it will be over a month before there’s even a possibility of a tour of the detention facilities that house most of Guantanamo’s 166 prisoners. A military spokeswoman based in Guantanamo told HuffPost on Friday that there would be no opportunity for press to access any of the prison facilities until May 6 at the earliest. New York Times reporter Charlie Savage had been trying to fly down for a visit next week, but told HuffPost that he was informed Friday afternoon the trip wasn’t happening.
Reporters will be flying to Guantanamo later this month to witness pre-trial hearings in the military commission proceedings against the accused bomber of the U.S.S. Cole and the five men charged in connection with the Sept. 11 attacks.
Because of a rule created by the military last year, reporters aren't able to see the prisons during their visits. Officially, the military says tours aren’t possible while military commissions are underway because there aren’t enough guards to both run commissions and give reporters a tour of the facilities. Reporters say, and military officials will concede, that the rule was created after a February 2012 Fox News report focused on a $750,000 soccer field built for the more cooperative detainees. That report came out of a tour conducted while reporters were at the base for a commission hearing, and tours during commissions came to an end from that point forward.
The last reporter to visit one of the facilities was Carol Rosenberg, the Miami Herald reporter who has been covering Guantanamo for over a decade. A reporter for Business Insider also visited the prison facility earlier in March but didn’t report on the hunger strike until weeks later, when he published a story saying detainees were treated “absurdly well.” A Reuters reporter who took photos of one of the facilities last month was told that taking photos of written messages detainees had hung over a fence facing a door to their cell block was "off limits."
As of Friday, the military acknowledged that 41 prisoners are on hunger strikes, meaning they have missed at least nine consecutive meals.