Uruguay hunger strike leaves ex-Gitmo inmate 'critical'

Montevideo (AFP) - A former Guantanamo inmate resettled in Uruguay in 2014 is in critical condition from a two-month-old hunger strike he launched to demand authorities transfer him to another country, an official said Monday.

Jihad Diyab, a 45-year-old Syrian, launched his protest in early August, demanding to be transferred to an Arab country and reunited with his family.

"He is in serious danger," said Uruguay's rights ombudswoman, Mirtha Guianze, describing his condition as "very critical."

"His situation has us extremely worried from a humanitarian standpoint," she told state television.

A Uruguayan court ruled last month that Diyab had the right to continue his hunger strike, after he briefly went into a coma, then refused to be fed through an IV.

Diyab is one of six former Guantanamo inmates resettled in Uruguay as refugees, part of a deal with the United States to help 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.

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

He began his latest hunger strike in August 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.

Guianze said Diyab is demanding a letter from the Uruguayan government expressly allowing him to leave the country -- which officials have said he has the right to do -- and a copy of Uruguay's agreement with the United States on his transfer.

Uruguay says it is working to arrange his resettlement, but has yet to find a country willing to take him.