Hunger striker Oswald Brown has begun eating again after being told that his rape conviction is to be re-examined, his wife has claimed.
Amanda Brown said her husband decided to call off his hunger strike at the weekend after he was informed by a legal representative that the judiciary has agreed to look again at his case to see if there are grounds to appeal his conviction.
She added that while he has started eating again - after 54 days without food - he is still very weak.
"He has been told that his case is going to be re-looked at, which is why he began eating again. We do not know the details yet but the news has given him renewed hope. He is still very weak. I am unaware at the minute when he will be released from hospital."
Brown, a 38-year-old father-of-two who was officially expected to complete his prison sentence tomorrow, went on hunger strike in protest against his conviction for raping a student in 2001.
He was rushed to Belfast City Hospital from Magilligan Prison last week after his condition deteriorated and the High Court ruled that he should be force-fed by medical staff.
However, the ruling sparked a row between High Court judge Mr Justice Deeny and the hospital after Brown's physician chose not to force-feed him on the grounds that he believed he was of sound mind and fully aware of the implications of what he was doing.
On Friday, Mr Justice Deeny agreed that Brown was mentally capable to decide if he wanted to continue with the hunger strike.
The judge was informed in the High Court yesterday that Brown has been " eating and drinking by mouth" in the hospital since last Friday and that his physical condition is "improving rapidly."
Barrister Gerry McAlinden, acting on behalf of Belfast City Hospital, revealed that staff held "minor concerns" about Brown's potassium levels but it was felt this would be corrected in time for his release.
The hearing was told Brown will be ready for release from the hospital on Wednesday or Thursday, which coincides with the end of his prison term.