ALEXANDRIA, Va., Feb. 26 (UPI) — U.S. prison officials say they will force-feed a hunger-striking North Carolina inmate who is refusing to testify before a grand jury.

Former Professor Sami al-Arian, 49, began his strike Jan. 21 and has had only water since to protest demands he testify about Virginia Muslim charities allegedly financing terrorist organizations.

As part of a plea deal in Tampa, Fla., in 2005, Arian pleaded guilty to one count of supporting a Palestinian terrorist organization. During his sentence, federal prosecutors twice requested his testimony, both times he refused, The Washington Post reported. Arian has since been charged with contempt.

Arian, who is in the federal medical prison in Butner, N.C., and his lawyers accuse prosecutors of violating his plea agreement with the Justice Department, contending he does not have to cooperate.

Arian has reportedly lost more than 30 pounds and federal Bureau of Prisons spokeswoman Tracy Billingsley told the Post he would be force-fed through a tube if his medical condition becomes critical.


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