US military says number of Guantanamo prisoners on hunger strike has dropped to 75 from 106

KINGSTON, Jamaica — The number of inmates on hunger strike at the Guantanamo Bay prison has dropped to 75 from a peak of 106 last week, and even most of the men still listed as strikers ate a meal in the last day, the U.S. military said Thursday in its latest tally of the protest that began in February.

Army Lt. Col. Sam House said in a phone interview from Guantanamo that 67 of those 75 inmates had eaten a meal during the previous 24 hours at the prison, which is currently serving food at night during the Muslim holy period of Ramadan, which lasts through early August.

The 67 detainees are still listed as hunger strikers because the U.S. military requires a minimum of three days of sustained eating and a minimal caloric intake before they can be removed from the tally. But House said the main factor must be that a prisoner wishes to be removed from the hunger strike list.

The strike has prompted President Barack Obama to criticize the force-feedings and renew his efforts to close the prison, which houses 166 inmates.

On Tuesday, a U.S. federal judge turned down a bid by three Guantanamo prisoners on hunger strike to stop authorities from force-feeding them. Judge Rosemary M. Collyer ruled she didn’t have jurisdiction in the case because Congress removed Guantanamo detainees’ treatment and conditions of confinement from the purview of federal courts. She also said there was “nothing so shocking or inhumane in the treatment” that would raise a constitutional concern.