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Gitmo Detainees Are on 'Long Term Non-Religious Fasts': U.S.

The sun rises over the Guantanamo detention facility at dawn May 13, 2009, at the Guantanamo Bay U.S. Naval Base, Cuba. In a speech Thursday, President Barack Obama defended his plans to close the Guantanamo prison camp. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)AP, file

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Prisoners on hunger strikes at Guantanamo Bay have been re-branded as "individuals participating in long term non-religious fasting" by U.S. authorities.

A 24-page document obtained by the Miami Herald appears to distinguish them from those who fast for religious reasons.

Dozens of Guantanamo detainees have embarked on hunger strikes over the past year to protest their continued detention. They are force-fed liquid meals via tubes inserted into their noses and down into their stomachs.

Human-rights advocates and many doctors have called that procedure a violation of personal liberty and medical ethics.

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A U.S. Navy nurse stands next to a chair with restraints, used for force-feeding, and a tray displaying nutritional shakes, a tube for feeding through the nose, and lubricants, including a jar of olive oil, during a tour of the detainee hospital at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base.Charles Dharapak / AP, file

President Barack Obama has defended the practice at Guantanamo, telling a news conference last year, "I don't want these individuals to die."

On Tuesday, a 34-year-old Yemeni national who has been held at Guantanamo Bay since 2002 alleged in a court filing that detainees have been force-fed up to a gallon at a time of nutrient and water.

The filing by lawyers for Emad Abdullah Hassan follows a federal appeals court ruling last month that left the door open for detainees to go to court over confinement conditions.

Henry Austin of NBC News, Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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