Egypt’s highest court Monday turned down another bid by jailed opposition leader Ayman Nour to be released from prison, due to his medical condition.
His lawyer told reporters Nour – imprisoned on charges of fraud over his Al Ghad Party’s signatures to form the party – would seek a presidential pardon after the last attempt to release the him failed.
Last July, a lower court rejected Nour’s calls for his release, saying his life was not in danger and ordered the one-time symbol of democracy in the West’s eyes to treatment at a hospital outside prison.
Nour’s doctors had reported the former Ghad party chief’s health was deteriorating rapidly during his time in prison and that releasing him was the only reasonable course of action.
In January, Egypt canceled its scheduled meetings with European Union officials and summoned all EU ambassadors in Cairo for an explanation of an EU text that criticised Cairo’s treatment of Nour and their human rights record.
Egypt said Nour was tried and found guilty of forging his party’s accreditation documents and would serve his jail sentence according to the law.
Although the Americans have been quiet in recent years over the former presidential candidate – who finished a distant second in the 2005 vote to long-time President Hosni Mubarak – Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice criticised the Egyptian government when Nour first entered prison.
Many Egyptians have seen the American silence over human rights issues and Nour’s imprisonment in particular, as a sign Washington was not truly serious over pressuring Arab nations to change in the face of the “war on terror.”
“We have seen the U.S. call for change so often, but then, because they don’t want to upset their allies who are ‘helping’ them on this terrorism war, they just sit back and allow governments to do what they want as long as they say the right things,” Salma, a young activist in Cairo, told panapress.