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Asma Ismailov, the wife of Sami al-Hajj, the Al-Jazeera cameraman held in Guantanamo Bay, has said that she has been told he is to be freed.

Al-Hajj has been held as an "enemy combatant" by the US forces since 2001.

Ismailov on Sunday said: "I was promised by US and Sudanese officials that he will be released by the end of March."

Her husband has been on hunger strike for 12 months and Ismailov said she fears for his deteriorating health.

She said: "I was told that Sami is very sick and that he suffers kidney, heart and rheumatism problems.

"Sami wrote me a letter in his handwriting that he is diabetic now, he suffers weakness of sight, high blood pressure and rheumatism."

Al-Hajj, originally from Sudan, was arrested in Pakistan in December 2001 by Pakistani intelligence officers while travelling near the Afghan border.

Despite holding a legitimate visa to work as a cameraman for Al Jazeera in Afghanistan, Al-Hajj was handed to the US military in January 2002 and sent to Guantanamo Bay in Cuba for allegedly having ties to al-Qaeda.

Hopes that Al-Hajj would be released last August on the condition that he remain in his country of origin proved unfounded.

The news follows the sixth anniversary of the opening of the notorious US detention centre.

Protesters around the world staged rallies on Friday calling for the closure of Guantanamo Bay.

Eighty-one demonstrators were arrested outside the US supreme court in Washington DC.

Activists from Amnesty International, the human rights organisation, and others also gathered in cities such as London, Sydney, New York and Manila.

The US has suggested it wants to close Guantanamo, where 275 detainees are held including about 60 who US military panels have cleared for release or transfer.

Zachary Katznelson, senior counsel at Reprieve, an organisation that provides legal assistance to prisoners, said the US approach to those imprisoned in Guantanamo is inconsistent.


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