Judge: Heart surgery must be at Guantanamo

/ Source: NBC News

A federal judge has denied a request by a Pakistani detainee held at the Guantanamo Naval Base to move his scheduled cardiac surgery to another facility.

U.S. District Judge Paul Friedman said Saifullah Paracha, a 59-year-old detainee, has the choice of either having the cardiac catheterization procedure performed at the naval hospital on the base, or not having the procedure done at all.

Judge Friedman, after hearing arguments for and against the issuance of a preliminary injunction, said, "I don't think irreparable harm has been shown."

Government attorneys said that a specialized surgery team and equipment has been flown to Guantanamo specifically to perform the procedure on Paracha. And the lawyers said that three years ago a similar procedure was performed successfully on another detainee held at Guantanamo.

Paracha's lawyer said that his client complained that several simple diagnostic examinations were not performed adequately by doctors at Guantanamo Naval Hospital. Gaillard Hunt, Paracha's lawyer, said that his client has had his hands and feet shackled when being examined at the base hospital and that several attempts to perform an electrocardiogram, or EKG, proved difficult for base medical staff.

Judge Friedman said that despite his ruling, which will allow the catheterization to be performed on base, he was, "troubled by the shackling allegations."

Paracha was described by his lawyer as a Pakistani multimillionaire and TV producer who went to Afghanistan to meet with Osama bin Laden and arrange an interview. Paracha is accused of laundering money for al-Qaida and plotting to smuggle explosives into the U.S..

Cardiac catheterization is a diagnostic procedure used to detect blockages or other heart problems. A doctor inserts a thin plastic tube into an artery or vein in the arm or leg and pushes it into the chambers of the heart or the arteries to measure blood pressure within the heart and blood oxygen levels. Sometimes the procedure involves injecting a dye and using radiology to get images of any blockages.