MONTEVIDEO, Uruguay — A former Guantanamo detainee who resettled in Uruguay was briefly hospitalized after becoming weak from a hunger strike and then released Tuesday.
A few hours later, he said he would keep up the strike to the death if he has to.
Syrian native Abu Wa’el Dhiab has repeatedly said he is unhappy in Uruguay and is demanding he be allowed to leave the country, which took him in with five other former Guantanamo prisoners in 2014.
Dhiab’s friend Jorge Voituret said the ex-detainee was hospitalized Monday night in the Uruguayan capital, Montevideo. Dhiab’s government liaison, Christian Mirza, said he was released Tuesday but declined to comment on his condition.
Late Tuesday, friends posted a YouTube showing Dhiab lying on a mattress in his apartment next to a copy of a Tuesday newspaper.
He speaks softly in Arabic pressing his demand to be sent to another country to be with his family, according to a Spanish translation with the video. “My decision for the hunger strike is an extreme decision, my final decision. I am going to see my family in another country, or I die,” he is quoted as saying.
Dhiab suffers health problems related to multiple hunger strikes and forced feedings while in U.S. custody. He went missing from Uruguay for weeks this year, alarming officials in neighboring countries and setting off recriminations from U.S. lawmakers before resurfacing in Venezuela on July 27.
The Uruguayan Foreign Ministry says Dhiab tried to get help to reunite with his family in Turkey or another country before he was deported from Venezuela last week. Since his return to Uruguay, Dhiab has grown frustrated with a government-appointed NGO that he says owes him three months of aid, according to Voituret.
Dhiab and the other former prisoners came to Uruguay at the invitation of then-President Jose Mujica. They were detained in 2002 for suspected ties to al-Qaida and held without charge like hundreds of others at Guantanamo before U.S. officials cleared them for release.
Uruguay has provided social services and financial support, but the men have struggled to adjust and say they don’t get enough help. Dhiab has been the most vocal of the group.
Shortly after arriving in 2014, he called a news conference to complain that the government needed a better resettlement plan. Last year he visited neighboring Argentina and told reporters he planned to seek asylum. Dhiab also has accused Uruguay of breaking a promise to bring his family to the country.