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article imageHunger-striking ex-Gitmo prisoner in Uruguay in 'coma'

By AFP     Sep 14, 2016 in World

A former inmate at the US Guantanamo military prison who was resettled in Uruguay has slipped into a coma after a lengthy hunger strike, a medical worker told AFP Wednesday.

Jihad Diyab, a 45-year-old Syrian, has been in and out of the hospital in Montevideo since launching a hunger strike more than three weeks ago to press his demand to be reunited with his family in Turkey.

"He is in a light coma, we are hydrating him, he was very dehydrated," said Julia Galzerano, a physician who is part of the medical team taking care of Diyab at his apartment in the capital, said in a telephone interview.

She explained that the coma designation means that he "does not have a neurological problem" and has "almost normal vital signs."

At the moment the team is only giving him fluids and Diyab has asked not to be taken to a hospital facility, said a spokeswoman for the human rights commission of the Uruguay Medical Union, which is caring for the former prisoner.

In Uruguay, a person on a hunger strike can be medically assisted only under a voluntary request or if the person loses the capacity to make decisions.

Held in Guantanamo for 12 years without charge, Diyab was released in 2014 from the US-run military prison in Cuba to Uruguay along with five other former inmates, under an agreement with Washington.

The ex-prisoner has repeatedly shown his desire to leave Uruguay. He fled to Venezuela, seeking help in reuniting with his family in Turkey, but was jailed at the headquarters of the secret police.

Diyab insists he cannot financially support his family in Turkey while living in Uruguay.

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