Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Ayman Nour Decision Postponed

UPDATE: Check out the new blog covering the Mid East: Outsider On The Inside

Despite a surprising yet welcome development a few days ago, the Administrative Court has ruled to postpone the decision on whether to free Ayman Nour from prison on medical grounds:

CAIRO (Reuters) - An Egyptian court refused to immediately release jailed Egyptian opposition leader Ayman Nour from prison on health grounds on Tuesday but asked for a panel of doctors to have another look at medical reports on his case.

The ruling by the Administrative Court dashed the hopes of Nour's supporters, who were encouraged to read in the state newspaper al-Ahram on Tuesday morning that the court was expected to set him free after some 18 months in prison.

Some broke down in tears in the courtroom and others shouted out: "Down, down with (President) Hosni Mubarak".


An initial medical report on Nour said he had several serious health problems but could stay in prison if he received the right treatment and diet. Nour, 42, has both diabetes and heart problems.

The judges on Tuesday asked a committee of medical experts to examine the initial report and report back on June 12.

Nour's lawyer, Amir Salem, said the court's decision was a disappointment. "The al-Ahram report, for example, gave us a hint that the state had taken a political decision to free Ayman Nour ... but this was deceptive," he told reporters.

Nour's wife, Gameela Ismail, said she objected to the way the court had linked Nour's case with that of a drug dealer who is paralysed and who is also seeking release on health grounds.

"I'm sure that when Ayman Nour hears of this ... he will be deeply aggrieved," she told reporters.

It seems to me that he will be released eventually, but that it will be on the government's terms, and nobody else's. However, given that he has a legitimate excuse to be pardoned (not to mention allegations of abuse), why has the international media largely forgotten about him?

From a Gulfnews article on diminishing American pressure for democracy in the region, here's a little snippet about the U.S ambassador to Egypt:

Ricciardone recently told Egyptian television, "Here in Egypt as in the US, there is freedom of speech." Boucher told Voice of America, "I think the Pakistani government is moving forward; they're moving toward elections."

Ricciardone's comments were not a slip of the tongue and the transcript of his television interview was posted on the website of the American embassy in Cairo.

When asked by CNN International recently to comment on the torture and continued detention of Egyptian dissident Ayman Nour, an embassy spokesman refused to be drawn into criticism of President Hosni Mubarak's government. Instead, the spokesman insisted that the US believed Egypt was "making prog-ress" towards democracy.

The ambassador's proc-lamation and his spokes-man's description of a regime that arrests and tortures dissidents as reflecting progress is far from reality.
Apparently "progress" is measured with a different stick in Egypt.

A quick Google News search on Ayman Nour shows that as of now no major news sites (IHT has a small story) have picked up the story yet. (Updated: a few sites have picked up bits and pieces of the Reuters and AP stories written, no major U.S site yet) This would seem to be the ideal time to re-launch the campaign to free him, and possibly shed some light on Egypt's appointment to the new Human Rights Council at the U.N.

Ayman Nour May Be Released
Ayman Nour Assaulted In Prison: Wife

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