Doctors urge access to Guantanamo hunger strikers

More than 150 doctors from the United States and Britain have written to President Barack Obama urging him to grant independent medical care to hunger-striking Guantanamo detainees.

The hunger strike, which began more than four months ago, is meant to protest the inmates' indefinite detention at the military facility even though more than half have been cleared for release.

The letter, published Wednesday in the Lancet medical journal, said it was "imperative for (the detainees) to have access to independent medical examination and advice, as they ask, and as required by the UN and World Medical Association."

"Without trust, safe and acceptable medical care of mentally competent patients is impossible," the letter said.

"Since the detainees do not trust their military doctors, they are unlikely to comply with current medical advice."

The group Physicians for Human Rights, meanwhile, recalled that it had urged Obama to halt the force-feeding of detainees.

Of the 166 inmates held at the remote US military camp in Cuba, 104 are refusing food and 44 were being provided nourishment through nasal tubes as of Wednesday, said prison spokesman Lt. Col. Samuel House. One has been hospitalized but is not in critical condition.

"Detainees' rights to make decisions about their own health must be respected," said Vincent Iacopino, the group's medical advisor.

"Force feeding not only constitutes inhumane and degrading treatment, but is a clear violation of medical standards, and must be ended immediately."

Obama last month renewed his pledge to shutter the prison.