In the dim light of the single-bed hospital room, Isa Islam appears gaunt and is clearly uncomfortable.
He shifts his thin body uneasily in his hospital bed but stays mostly propped on one elbow, his long bony fingers working and twisting to emphasise his words. He occasionally carefully strokes his wispy beard and runs a hand through his lanky dark hair, still damp from an assisted shower.
In our exclusive interview with Islam, we were expecting a man debilitated and barely able to speak.
Not so. Although an unbelievably long 55 days into his hunger strike, Islam is calm, concise and measured, his dark eyes burning with a resolve to see this thing through, come what may.
A stainless-steel handcuff, comically thick in diameter, connects his left hand by a half-metre chain to another cuff fastened to the hard steel rail of his hospital bed.
It's a reminder, if the presence of three uniformed Corrections officers just outside his door isn't sufficient, that Islam has been incarcerated in the ACT for two extremely violent offences.
One of those incidents left his victim a quadriplegic; the other saw a man bashed so badly in jail that the man needed a month in hospital to reconstruct his face.
At first take, the restraint seems superfluous. But in minutes you realise that, even in such a weakened state, there's a power in his tall, wiry frame that is slightly intimidating.
Islam's primary request, and one which he says would end his hunger strike tomorrow, is to have a one-on-one audience with ACT Corrections executive director Jon Peach, or a delegate equally empowered to listen and seek to address his concerns.
Mr Peach met with Islam in December. The prisoner says that was a cursory meeting, with no desire on the part of ACT's Corrections' top executive to address his concerns.
"There was nothing in that meeting that assured me things would change," Islam says.
A statement issued by the ACT government on Thursday evening said Mr Peach would be happy to meet with the detainee again once he restarted medical treatment to address his immediate health risk.
But Islam believes that should he do so, the only really powerful bargaining chip he has, that of his own health, would be surrendered in vain if nothing is resolved.
And here the issue now sits, caught between the government's rock and Islam's hard place.
Ask him how he physically feels and Islam, 45, is almost dismissive about his health.
A convert to the Muslim faith in 2006, he is much more interested in talking about the injustices he says he has faced in jail, mostly he claims due to his religious observances, and other issues which have led him down this painful path and in doing so, speared angst and uncertainty deep into the heart of the ACT corrections system.
Islam is the ACT's first hunger striker detainee in Australia, from a prison which prides itself on its human rights principles and only this week published a bright orange brochure telling its detainees about their entitlements.
It's a product Islam hasn't seen, but dismisses outright as "theory, not practice".
"I've been assaulted three times recently and received 14 stitches in one of those attacks," he says. "I've had faeces and urine thrown through my cell door. When I pray, the other inmates bang on my door, yell insults and taunts.
"I've had my cell light left on all night and my pillow taken away. Is that tolerance? Is that protecting my human rights? It's unacceptable."
A justice directorate spokesperson said when Mr Peach met him on Christmas day, Islam had told Mr Peach he did not have the authority to resolve the demands and he did not want to meet him again. He had repeatedly refused to identify a staff member to liaise with.
The spokesperson said Islam's health was the priority, but "regrettably, the detainee continues to exercise his right to refuse food".
"Ultimately, this is his choice and he continues to do this in full light of the risks.
"Despite offers to try and seek a positive resolution, the detainee has continued with his course of action and has not been willing to commence refeeding until his numerous and particular demands are fully met."
The government solicitor wrote to him on January 10, refusing his demands, which included early release, monetary compensation, and settlement of personal debts, the spokesperson said.
Corrective Services Minister Shane Rattenbury wrote to him on January 16 and 18, urging him to start eating and telling Islam he was extremely concerned about his health.
"We have remained significantly concerned about the very serious health ramifications and potentially irreversible consequences that may result from not eating, including brain damage or death," the spokesperson said.
ACT Corrective Services was willing to talk with Islam about his concerns, but only once he started eating.
As to his specific concerns, the spokesperson said all detainees had the right to practise their religion in prison, with access to religious leaders and services.
"The detainee has alleged that he has been vilified on occasion from other detainees while attempting to pray. While ACT Corrective Services endeavours to eliminate any alleged instances of this kind, this cannot be wholly prevented."
In his interview with The Canberra Times, Islam said he had joined the RAAF at 15 as a trades apprentice and was a weapons specialist, loading ammunition into Macchi jets and PC-9s, then later on FA18s out of Williamtown.
When he left the RAAF, he went to Kuwait for two years as a military contractor. That's where a friend gave him a copy of the Koran, and he had the downtime to read it.
He is intelligent and articulate. During his time in jail he has achieved several degrees - in HR, management, English and theology. He has nearly finished a PhD on Islamic studies.
Islam's hospital room floor is littered with newspapers he has clearly taken apart to extract articles of interest. A thick copy of the Koran sits close-to-hand and, bizarrely, the latest copy of Unique Cars magazine.
"I like cars," he says. "When I was in the air force I had a VH Commodore with a slightly worked 308 engine.
"Nice car," he adds.
Occasionally he stops to cough weakly and drop thin spit into a plastic container. The silent Corrections officer sitting close by offers a replacement. Islam waves him away.
"I drank a little too much water today," he explained. "It's acid reflux."
There's no sense of uncertainty in Islam as the hours and days tick by in the dim light of a tiny hospital room, chained to the bed. He believes he is playing the only remaining card left in his deck, and it could cost him his life.