- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 11, 2009

DENVER | One day after court documents disclosed that convicted “shoe-bomber” Richard C. Reid has been refusing food, federal authorities said they were lifting special restrictions on him at a U.S. prison.

The announcement Wednesday appears to give Reid what he is seeking in a lawsuit challenging the restrictions, which he claims prevent him from practicing his Sunni Muslim faith. Justice Department officials did not say, however, why they were lifting the restrictions.

Reid, 35, is serving three life sentences at the federal supermax prison at Florence, Colo., for trying to blow up a jetliner over the Atlantic in 2001. Court documents made public Tuesday showed he had been refusing food for several weeks.

He began a hunger strike in March or early April and has been force-fed and hydrated, the court papers showed.

A Justice Department spokesman said the restrictions, known as special administrative measures, expire June 17. Earlier, the department had asserted to the judge overseeing the lawsuit that the restrictions were necessary for security reasons.

The Justice Department has imposed special restrictions, intended to protect against terrorism and violence, at several federal prisons on inmates convicted of terrorism.

The restrictions include denying visits that other inmates are allowed to have and greater-than-normal controls on written and telephone conversations with attorneys and other people outside the prisons.

The disclosure that the special restrictions will not be renewed was made by the Justice Department in a new two-paragraph filing in U.S. District Court in Denver in the case involving Reid’s lawsuit.

Reid claims he has been under special restrictions from the time he arrived at the supermax in February 2003. His lawsuit asserts that the restrictions include prohibiting group prayer with other Muslim inmates, a bar on contacting journalists and limiting access to an imam, a Muslim religious figure.

The Justice Department said inmates with whom Reid might pray were co-conspirators of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. A leader of that attack, Ramzi Yousef, is a supermax inmate.

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