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Imprisoned Georgia opposition leader Saakashvili faints in prison amid hunger strike

Georgia’s imprisoned opposition leader and a former president Mikheil Saakashvili fainted in the prison on Thursday amid hunger strike. Saakashvili’s lawyers told Georgian press the ex-president was taken out on a stretcher by the medics when he lost consciousness.

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Saakashvili has been on a hunger strike for 49 days while protesting his incarceration. A council of medics set up by Georgia’s public defender says Saakashvili’s health is rapidly deteriorating. They recommend he be transferred from the prison hospital to a civilian clinic better equipped to treat him.

In this photo taken Monday, June 13, 2016, Governor of the Odessa region, Mikhail Saakashvili speaks to the Associated Press in Odessa, Ukraine. Saakashvili, the former president of Georgia, has brought his corruption-fighting record to his job as governor of the Odessa region in Ukraine. So far, however, the pace has been dismally slow. His stifled efforts in Odessa show the systemic problems still facing the entire country two years after it broke with Moscow and aligned itself firmly with the West. (AP Photo/Sergei Poliakov)

In this photo taken Monday, June 13, 2016, Governor of the Odessa region, Mikhail Saakashvili speaks to the Associated Press in Odessa, Ukraine. Saakashvili, the former president of Georgia, has brought his corruption-fighting record to his job as governor of the Odessa region in Ukraine. So far, however, the pace has been dismally slow. His stifled efforts in Odessa show the systemic problems still facing the entire country two years after it broke with Moscow and aligned itself firmly with the West. (AP Photo/Sergei Poliakov)
(The Associated Press)

The Georgian government insisted that Saakashvili receives adequate medical care in the prison hospital and there is no need to transfer him to a civilian hospital. One of the doctors treating the former Georgian president says the president has been “stabilized” since losing consciousness and “is under continuous health monitoring” to ensure his well-being.

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FILE - In this Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2015 file photo, governor of Odessa region in Ukraine, Mikhail Saakashvili speaks during the anti-corruption forum in Kiev, Ukraine. Ukrainian news agencies are reporting that Mikhail Saakashvili, the onetime Georgian president who became governor of Ukraine's Odessa region, is resigning. Saakashvili was appointed governor of Odessa in May 2015. (AP Photo/Sergei Chuzavkov, File)

FILE – In this Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2015 file photo, governor of Odessa region in Ukraine, Mikhail Saakashvili speaks during the anti-corruption forum in Kiev, Ukraine. Ukrainian news agencies are reporting that Mikhail Saakashvili, the onetime Georgian president who became governor of Ukraine’s Odessa region, is resigning. Saakashvili was appointed governor of Odessa in May 2015. (AP Photo/Sergei Chuzavkov, File)
(The Associated Press)

U.S. State Department spokesperson Ned Price has previously urged Georgian government to “immediately take steps to ensure that Mr. Saakashvili’s urgent mental health and medical needs are addressed.”

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Saakashvili was convicted on corruption charges in absentia. He was arrested upon return to his home country of Georgia.  He denies all charges and claims his conviction was politically motivated.

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