New York Times Paid $150 for Guantánamo Bay Hunger Strike Op-Ed

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GUANTANAMO BAY, CUBA - OCTOBER 28: (EDITORS NOTE: Image has been reviewed by U.S. Military prior to transmission)  A group of detainees kneels during an early morning Islamic prayer in their camp at the U.S. military prison for "enemy combatants" on October 28, 2009 in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Although U.S. President Barack Obama pledged in his first executive order last January to close the infamous prison within a year's time, the government has been struggling to try the accused terrorists and to transfer them out ahead of the deadline. Military officials at the prison point to improved living standards and state of the art medical treatment available to detainees, but the facility's international reputation remains tied to the "enhanced interrogation techniques" such as waterboarding employed under the Bush administration. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
Photo: John Moore/2009 Getty Images

The shocking column in the New York Times today from a Guantánamo Bay prisoner on hunger strike bears the byline of Samir Naji al Hasan Moqbel, but the reality of its making is more complicated. As the paper explains in his bio section, Moqbel "told this story, through an Arabic interpreter, to his lawyers at the legal charity Reprieve in an unclassified telephone call." The appalling claims therein — about being forcibly fed through a tube — were "reviewed and edited consistent with our policies," said Times spokesperson Eileen Murphy. And he will be compensated accordingly.

"We were contacted by Reprieve in the UK, the legal organization that represents the Guantanamo detainee, about today's piece," Murphy said. "We think the value of the piece is obvious and it was an easy call to publish it. Guantánamo is run by the United States and these hunger strikes are happening. Readers have a right to know, in fact we would argue, they need to know about them."

Asked about payment, Murphy said, "We plan to remit our standard Op-Ed fee — $150 — to the detainee's lawyers at Reprieve, and they have told us they plan to pass it along to Mr. Moqbel's family in Yemen."