Ailing Egyptian opposition leader could be freed

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CAIRO: Ailing Egyptian opposition leader Ayman Nour will undergo medical tests at the weekend that could see him freed from jail early, family sources and press reports said Thursday. The 43-year-old failed presidential candidate was imprisoned on forgery charges a year ago and suffers from diabetes as well as heart and back problems. Press reports have suggested doctors who examine Nour on Saturday could recommend his release through a presidential pardon around the time of Eid Al-Fitr, the festival marking the end of the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan, later this month. But his wife, Gamila Ismail, was skeptical that his release was imminent. I m not optimistic after so many rumors and so much speculation. We know it would be a political decision first and foremost, she said. All I want is for him to be released. Saving Nour s life now takes priority over everything else, she added, denouncing the government of President Hosni Mubarak as not human, only interested in retaliation … and getting opposition out of the way. Nour, a lawyer by trade, mounted an unsuccessful electoral campaign against Mubarak, who was re-elected to a fifth term in September 2005. Nour was sentenced in December 2005 to five years in prison after being convicted of forging affidavits for the creation of his El-Ghad (tomorrow) party. He finished a distant second to Mubarak in the election, Egypt s first multi-candidate presidential poll.

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