Uruguay: Hunger-striking ex-Gitmo detainee not at death risk

AP News
Posted: Sep 16, 2016 11:07 PM
Uruguay: Hunger-striking ex-Gitmo detainee not at death risk

MONTEVIDEO, Uruguay (AP) — An Uruguayan judge on Friday rejected a call to forcibly hospitalize a former Guantanamo prisoner who is on a hunger strike, saying medical officials determined that he's not at imminent risk of death.

Judge Carlos Garcia said the medical evaluation of Abu Wa'el Dhiab found him to be thin but lucid, and that exams were normal. He denied a request by local health authorities to hospitalize the 45-year-old Syrian.

Dhiab has been on a hunger strike for more than a month to press his demands to leave Uruguay, which took him in along with five other former Guantanamo prisoners in 2014. He wants to join his wife and children in Turkey or another nation.

Garcia ordered the evaluation on Thursday following alarming reports from doctors and paramedics who have treated Dhiab at an apartment where he is staying in Montevideo.

Dhiab who emerged from a coma this week, has been hospitalized twice, but has asked to return to the apartment, where he continues to reject any food or liquid.

An activist group calling itself Vigil for Jihad Dhiab on late Friday posted the latest in a series of YouTube videos it has made of Dhiab, this one showing him lying on a mattress in his apartment and speaking in English.

In it, Dhiab criticized the court-ordered medical evaluation, saying he was told that if his health deteriorates, the judge will order him to go "to a hospital or give you IV by force."

"I told them that I'm not in Guantanamo and this should not turn into a second Guantanamo," referring to the forced feedings he underwent there.

Dhiab also said in the video that he will agree to resume drinking liquids if Uruguayan officials meet his demands to help reunite him and his family within seven days and gave the government until Sunday to respond to his proposal.

About 50 members of the same activist group also marched in downtown Montevideo Friday, demanding that the government work to rejoin Dhiab with his family abroad.

Dhiab was released from the U.S. base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in December 2014, but could not return to Syria due to the ongoing civil war.

The former prisoner has grown frustrated that his wife and two children, who are refugees in Turkey, have not come to Uruguay and he has asked the government of the South American country to either send him there or find another country that will accept him.

Dhiab was detained as an enemy combatant with suspected ties to militants for 12 years at Guantanamo but was never charged. While there, he drew international attention by staging a lengthy hunger strike that threatened his health and frequently clashed with guards during his protest.