Image: Zaid Zuhair
AP file
Guantanamo Bay detainee Ahmed Zaid Zuhair in a family picture taken in Saudi Arabia.
updated 12/19/2008 5:44:08 PM ET 2008-12-19T22:44:08

A judge ordered an independent medical exam for a Saudi prisoner at Guantanamo who has been on hunger strike for more than three years.

U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan ruled Thursday after a hearing in Washington that a court-appointed medical expert will evaluate the physical and mental health of Ahmed Zuhair, whose lawyers say has deteriorated sharply in recent weeks.

Sullivan also ordered the release of Zuhair's medical records.

The judge denied a defense request to halt the use of restraints when the prisoner is force-fed at Guantanamo. He also refused to order the U.S. to stop using a corn-based liquid nutrient to feed the prisoner that his legal team says may be causing an allergic reaction.

Last month, his lawyer returned from visiting Zuhair and said his client appeared to weigh no more than 100 pounds and was vomiting repeatedly during meetings at the American base in Cuba.

U.S. authorities have said Zuhair is in no danger and has been combative with guards.

Zuhair has been on a hunger strike to protest his confinement since the summer of 2005. He has not been charged with a crime, but the U.S. says he trained with the Taliban and al-Qaida in Afghanistan and was a member of an Islamic fighting group in Bosnia in the mid-1990s.

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