A TV cameraman imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay has developed kidney problems and was told by a doctor that he may have cancer, according to notes written by his lawyers and recently cleared for release by the U.S. military.
Sami al-Hajj, a cameraman for the Al-Jazeera TV network, underwent two medical scans but doctors did not determine what was causing blood in his urine, said the notes, which were taken by attorney Cori Crider in early November and released on Thursday.
Lawyers for al-Hajj, who was taken to Guantanamo in June 2002, say his physical and mental health have deteriorated as he continues a hunger strike that has lasted nearly a year.
A Guantanamo spokesman, Army Lt. Col. Edward Bush, declined to comment Friday on al-Hajj’s condition, citing privacy concerns.
Bush said nine detainees are currently on a hunger strike. All of them are being force-fed nutritional supplements through a nasal tube.
Al-Hajj, 38, who grew up in Sudan, was captured by Pakistani authorities on the Afghanistan border, and is believed to be the only journalist from a major international news organization held at Guantanamo. Authorities accused him of transporting money in the 1990s for a charity that allegedly funded military groups.
The U.S. is holding about 305 men at Guantanamo on suspicion of terrorism or links to al-Qaida or the Taliban.