Ex-Guantanamo prisoner goes on hunger strike in Venezuela: lawyer

AFP , Saturday 27 Aug 2016

A former Guantanamo prisoner now held by Venezuela's intelligence agency has gone on hunger strike, his lawyer said Saturday.

Jihad Diyab, who was relocated from Guantanamo to Uruguay nearly two years ago, was detained after traveling to Caracas in July in an apparent attempt to see family, his California-based lawyer Jon Eisenberg told AFP.

In an email, Eisenberg said he was concerned about Diyab, a 45-year-old Syrian national, after failing to establish contact with him.

"We still have not had any communication with the Venezuelan authorities," Eisenberg said. "I feared from the beginning that (the hunger strike) could take place, so I'm not surprised."

Held in Guantanamo for 12 years without charge, Diyab was released from the US military prison in southern Cuba to Uruguay in 2014 along with five fellow former detainees.

On August 6, Diyab's lawyer had asked the Venezuelan government for permission to speak with his client by telephone to organize his defense.

A US-based human rights activist confirmed Diyab's hunger strike.

Three independent sources, who asked to remain anonymous so they could speak freely about the case, said the Syrian man began his protest after "learning that the foreign ministries of Venezuela and Uruguay negotiated his deportation to Uruguay," Andres Conteris said by telephone.

Diyab is also refusing to take liquids, according to Conteris, of the group Witness Against Torture.

He hopes to be sent to Turkey or another third country to reunite with his family.

The Venezuelan authorities have not yet commented on the case.

Conteris traveled to Venezuela earlier this month to set up a meeting, but returned to the United States without success.

Eisenberg represents Diyab in a lawsuit filed against the US authorities for force-feeding prisoners on hunger strike in Guantanamo.

Diyab was captured in 2002 near the border region of Afghanistan and Pakistan.

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