Ex-Guantanamo inmate free to continue hunger strike - judge

2016-09-17 11:25


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Montevideo - A former Guantanamo inmate whose health is failing is free to continue his long hunger strike, ruled a Uruguayan judge on Friday.

Jihad Diyab, a 45-year-old Syrian released from Guantanamo in 2014 and resettled in Uruguay, launched a hunger strike more than three weeks ago, demanding to be transferred to an Arab country and reunited with his family.

He went into a coma Wednesday, then regained consciousness a day later and promptly pulled out his IV tube, his doctor said.

Shortly after, he fainted and three state medical examiners were dispatched to assess his health.

They then submitted to a judge a report saying there was not an imminent risk to Diyab's life.

The judge shelved the case and Diyab will not be hospitalised.

Diyab is a veteran hunger striker, having staged prolonged hunger strikes during his 12 years at Guantanamo to protest his detention.

He made international headlines when he launched an ultimately unsuccessful court case in the United States in an attempt to stop prison officials from force-feeding him.

He began his latest hunger strike in a Venezuelan prison, where he was detained after leaving Uruguay undetected and showing up at the Uruguayan consulate in Caracas, demanding to be taken to his family in Turkey.

Venezuela deported him back to Uruguay.

The Uruguayan government, which says it is trying to fulfill Diyab's demands, has managed to "open some doors" in its search for another country to take him in, according to the government official in charge of his case, Christian Mirza, who refused to go into detail.

He said Diyab, who has been hospitalised twice in a week but is now recovering at his residence, was lucid.

"I was with him and he was perfectly conscious and lucid. He had no difficulty exchanging information," he said.

Diyab was one of six former Guantanamo inmates resettled in Uruguay as refugees in 2014, part of a deal with the United States aimed at helping close the controversial prison set up in the wake of the 9/11 attacks.

Accused of terrorist links, the men - four Syrians, a Palestinian and a Tunisian - were never charged or tried. They had been cleared for release but could not be sent to their home countries because of unrest there.

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