Al-Hajj 'suffering from depression'

Psychiatrists say Al Jazeera cameraman could be losing the will to live.

    The US military is force-feeding hunger strikers
    at Guantanamo Bay [AFP]
    Psychiatrists Hugh Richards from Britain and D L Crisson from the US warned on Tuesday that if al-Hajj remained in the camp, his life could be in danger.
     
    Clive Stafford-Smith, al Hajj's lawyer, told Al Jazeera: "I'm incredibly worried about him.

    "Last time I saw him ... he was talking about death."

    'Immediate treatment'

    Al-Hajj, originally from Sudan, was arrested in Pakistan in December 2001 on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border by Pakistani intelligence and was handed to the US military in January 2002.

    Prisoner 345

    Find out more about the campaign to free Sami al-Hajj

    The cameraman is one of about 20 prisoners in Guantanamo Bay who have carried out a hunger strike in protest at their imprisonment and treatment at the US detention centre in Cuba.

    In July, al-Hajj had reportedly lost 18kg in weight since he began the hunger strike, according to notes from a meeting with his lawyer.

    Stafford-Smith said the US military was behaving shamefully by force-feeding hunger strikers.

    Al-Hajj has also complained that hunger strikers at Guantanamo were stripped of all their personal items except their clothes and had only a thin mat on which to sleep.

    Release stalled

    The two psychiatrists said in their letter that al-Hajj was in a constant state of fear and anxiety and felt that he was being pursued and could be killed.

    The two said al-Hajj needed immediate treatment from specialised doctors to alleviate his condition.

    The cameraman, who has been accused by the US of having links to al-Qaeda, could be released if Khartoum guarantees that he remains in Sudan.

    However, negotiations over his release stalled in August and Stafford-Smith urged the authorities in Qatar, where Al Jazeera is based, to intervene on behalf of their employee.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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