Lawyer: Bureau of Prisons may force-feed Al-Arian

The Federal Bureau of Prisons may begin force-feeding former USF professor Sami Al-Arian if his health continues to deteriorate, his lawyer told the Associated Press on Wednesday. The announcement came 19 days after it was reportedAl-Arian fainted while taking a shower in the Virginia penitentiary where he’s being held.

The procedure – which would likely involve inserting feeding tubes in the nose -is part of the BOP’s establishedprotocol for dealing with inmates on hunger strikes.

According to Sami’s wife Nahla Al-Arian, he has lost more than 45 pounds during the 45 days of his hunger strike.

“When my son went to see him last week, he was too weak to walk,” and arrived at the visitation in a wheelchair, she said.

Neither the Department of Justice nor the BOP could be reached for comment Wednesday evening, but the BOP declined to comment on Al-Arian’s health to AP reporters.

Concerns for Al-Arian’s health have spurred many into action. On Monday the National Council of Churches set up a letter-writing campaign through FaithfulAmerica.org, urging those concerned to voice their opinions directly to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.

“Over 3,500 letters have been sent in less than two days,” said Rev. Warren Clark, pastor of the First United Church of Tampa.

Though the DOJ has issued no formal response to the campaign, Clark said the effort is meant to ensure concerned citizens are establishing a dialog with the government through proper channels.

The hunger strike is in protest of Al-Arian’s detainment for testimony in an anti-terrorism case involving Muslim charities. He claims he was told that if he signed a plea bargain, he wouldn’t be forced to testify in any anti-terrorism trials.

“The government promised us they would let us go our way and they are not keeping their promise,” Nahla said. “The power is in the hands of the people. They should talk to the government. They should try. I’m sure the government will listen.”Nahla said Sami’s physical weakness has crept into his voice, but his convictions remain firm.

“He said, ‘What did Patrick Henry say?’ “Give me liberty or give me death.”?’?”

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