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Ex-Guantanamo inmate in Uruguay hospital after hunger strike

Syrian Jihad Diyab launched a hunger strike in protest at not being allowed to reunite with his family in Turkey
Former Guantanamo inmate Syrian Jihad Ahmed Mustafa Diyab walks in front of Syrian refugees as they camp at Independence square in Montevideo (AFP)

A former Guantanamo inmate who was resettled in Uruguay was hospitalised on Monday, suffering from the effects of a prolonged hunger strike, a source said.

Jihad Diyab, a 45-year-old Syrian who has been on a hunger strike to press his demand to be reunited with his family in Turkey, was admitted to a Montevideo hospital at 8:30pm (2330 GMT), said the source, who is close to Diyab.

"He was very bad, his blood pressure was very high, he had a low pulse, he had a lot of pain," said the source, who asked not to be identified, adding that they had been present when he was examined by a doctor.

"He's very thin and very dehydrated."

Diyab has clashed repeatedly with the authorities in Uruguay since being resettled as a refugee nearly two years ago along with five other former Guantanamo detainees.

The six men have had a running dispute with the Uruguayan government over housing and living allowances, and Diyab says Uruguay is not doing enough to reunite him with his family.

He caused alarm in June when he went off the radar, apparently evading border control and sneaking into Venezuela.

He showed up at the Uruguayan consulate in Caracas in July asking to be taken to his family in Turkey. He was arrested and held in what his lawyer condemned as unacceptable conditions before being deported back to Uruguay on 30 August.

Diyab earlier told AFP that he has been on hunger strike for about 20 days - starting when he was jailed in Venezuela - and has drunk no liquids for three days.

'No solution'

"Enough already," he said. "I've been here [in Uruguay] for a year and nine months, and they haven't found a solution to my situation."

Uruguayan officials say Turkey has refused to allow Diyab entry and that they are trying to arrange for his family to be relocated to Uruguay.

Diyab says he would not be able to support them in Uruguay and wants to be resettled elsewhere.

He 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.

Diyab and the other five ex-Guantanamo detainees were resettled in Uruguay as part of US President Barack Obama's effort to fulfil his long-delayed promise to close the 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.