Karen Ballard - Pool  /  AP file
Saddam Hussein appears, shown in a file photo from a court appearance on July 1 in Baghdad.
updated 7/29/2004 11:44:23 AM ET 2004-07-29T15:44:23

Deposed Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein suffers from a chronic prostate infection and has refused to have a biopsy to prove he does not have cancer, an Iraqi official said in an interview Thursday on Al-Jazeera television.

X-rays and blood tests did not show anything more serious than the infection and Saddam seemed to be in good health otherwise, Iraqi Human Rights Minister Bakhtiar Amin said.

Saddam, 67, has been held under U.S. detention at an undisclosed location in Iraq since his capture last December.

There have been several media reports saying his health was deteriorating — which the U.S. military denied Thursday.

Rumors of deteriorating health denied
“Saddam did not have a stroke and he is not dead,” 1st Sgt. Steve Valley said, responding to several recent rumors. He did not have any further information on the former Iraqi leader’s condition.

A Jordan-based spokesman for the International Committee of the Red Cross, the only neutral entity with access to Saddam, said Thursday the organization had no information about a downturn in Saddam’s health.

“Saddam’s sickness was rumors spread by the media,” said Mu’in Kassis. The ICRC said it has visited him at least twice to check on his condition and carry messages to his family.

According to Amin, Saddam has lost weight after following a diet. He spends his time reading the Quran, writing poetry and tending to a garden, Amin said.

Mohammed al-Rashdan, a member of Saddam’s defense team, said the lawyers have received unconfirmed information that Saddam suffered a stroke. He urged the Iraqi government to allow them, his family or a neutral party to send a doctor to Iraq to examine Saddam.

Officials at the Iraqi prime minister’s office said they had no information on the deposed leader’s condition.

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