January 6 defendants are asking to be sent to Guantanamo Bay rather than continue enduring 'diabolical' DC jail conditions

January 6 defendants are asking to be sent to Guantanamo Bay rather than continue enduring 'diabolical' DC jail conditions
Pro-Trump protesters gather in front of the U.S. Capitol Building on January 6, 2021 in Washington, DC.Jon Cherry/Getty Images
  • Thirty-four Capitol riot defendants held at a DC jail are seeking a transfer to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
  • They claim in a court petition that conditions at the military prison would be better than where they are now.

Several Capitol riot defendants being held at a DC jail say the conditions are so unbearable they would rather be sent to Gitmo.

A cohort of 34 January 6 detainees in a blistering Friday letter petitioned the court for a transfer to Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba, describing the notorious facility as one that "actually" provides nutritional meals, sunlight exposure, top notch medical care, and is respectful of religious requirements — conditions they claim are lacking at the D.C. Central Detention Facility.

Among them are defendants accused of assaulting officers, obstructing justice and other offenses in connection with the January 6 attack on the US Capitol by supporters of former President Donald Trump who hoped to overturn the 2020 presidential election results.

The US established Guantanamo Bay in Cuba in 2002 following the 9/11 attacks. It quickly became known as a facility rife with human rights abuses, including reports of torture, sexual abuse, and illegal detention. Fewer than 40 people remain incarcerated at the detention center, and Democratic lawmakers in recent years have ramped up pressure to close the facility for good.

But the co-signers of Friday's letter — which includes Proud Boys, Oath Keepers, and self-described "political prisoners" — seem to suggest that the military prison with a reputation for misery would be a step up from their current residence.


In a seven-page letter the group of pre-trial detainees rattled off dozens of complaints about their newfound home, describing the facility as an "abomination to the law and it's nation government" where the "woeful captives are all but slowly murdered in every way except for their very soul being ripped from their famished chests."

Among the prisoners' afflictions are several standard injustice often levied against the American prison industry, including inadequate meals and facilities, limited access to legal services, and name-calling from the guards. In their list of grievances, the defendants also lament vaccine requirements, the alleged presence of critical race theory propaganda, and staff who wear "Democrat" attire, including Black Lives Matter and Kamala Harris apparel.

A public information officer with the DC Department of Corrections could not immediately be reached for comment.

An attorney for one of the rioters who signed the letter included a copy of the handwritten note in a Friday exhibit seeking his client's release.

Accused rioters at the jail have previously complained about the facility's conditions, and in December 2021, an unannounced US Marshals Service inspection led to the removal of about half the inmates due to the inhumane environment.


They say the jail should be described as an "'evisceration facility,' of the body, mind, and soul," and claim prisoners are begging for help, water, medical aid. They say worms are found in salad and prisoners have suffered a loss of hair and vision and even scurvy because of malnutrition.

Members of Congress, hoping to check on them, have been denied entry, according to their letter. They claim they are "political prisoners on American soil, who have been unjustly and unfairly incarcerated."