Doctors examine jailed and ailing Egyptian opposition leader

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CAIRO: A team of doctors examined ailing Egyptian opposition leader Ayman Nour Saturday as a step toward a ruling on his condition that could see him freed from jail early, his wife said. They examined him for more than two hours, saying they would make a determination within a few weeks after studying his entire medical file, Gamila Ismail told AFP. She did not explain why they had told her it would take so long. 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. Other than freeing him, a recommendation could be made to transfer him to a hospital, or to leave him in prison. Press reports have suggested doctors who examine Nour 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 Ismail has been 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 earlier this week. 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, mounted an unsuccessful electoral campaign against Mubarak, who was re-elected to a fifth term in September 2005. He was sentenced last December 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. The United States has described his imprisonment as a miscarriage of justice.

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