Strip search prompted June protest at Guantanamo

GUANTANAMO BAY NAVY BASE, Cuba — For two weeks in June, two dozen war-on-terror captives staged a sit-in at an exercise yard in a maximum-security prison camp — refusing to budge from a labyrinth of open-air cells in a previously undisclosed coordinated protest that evoked images of the early days of Camp X-Ray.

Guards delivered the detainees' meals to their recreation yards rather than risk injury by forcing the 26 protesting prisoners back into their solitary cells. Captives turned trash bags into toilets and plastic water bottles into urinals in the standoff.

Detainees said guards were strip-searching the captives in the days after the apparent suicide of a detainee, Muhammed Salih of Yemeni, and were protesting what they saw as humiliating prolonged nudity and examination of their genitals.

Military officials this week confirmed the mass protest by about half the prisoners at Camp 5 in response to a detailed query from The Miami Herald. Camp 5 is a steel and concrete building where the least cooperative captives are held.

Defense lawyers learned of the episode while it was happening but were gagged under a Pentagon system that initially classifies as secret all attorney-client meetings.

"We have been in the recreation area for two weeks with bugs by day, mosquitoes by night, no showering or washing. It's terribly hot," Yemeni detainee Yasin Qasim Ismail told his attorney, David H. Remes, on June 19 in a newly declassified conversation.

The two sides offered nearly identical accounts of the showdown, which offered an unusual window into the way captives and commanders coexists in the eighth year of the detention center.