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Jailed Opposition Leader In Egypt

Ayman Nour, a lawyer and leader of the pro-democracy Ghad, or Party of Tomorrow, remains in prison. Mr. Nour lost an appeal of a five-year sentence he received in December 2005.

He was charged with falsifying petitions that resulted in his party's legalization. His attorney, Amir Salem, said, "This sentence. . . .is a political decision and not a judicial verdict." Independent Egyptian lawyers said that the charges were groundless.

While out on bail, Mr. Nour unsuccessfully challenged Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak in the September 2005 election. U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack says, "The Egyptian government's handling of this case represents both a miscarriage of justice by international standards and a setback for the democratic aspirations of the Egyptian people":

"We are deeply concerned by the repeated instances of police violence against peaceful demonstrators in Cairo and other places. Both Mr. Nour's ongoing detention and the Egyptian government's handling of dissent raise serious concerns about the path of political reform and democracy in Egypt, and are incongruous with the Egyptian government's professed commitment to increased political openness and dialogue within Egyptian society."

Mr. McCormack says the Egyptian government should "respect the rights of citizens to express their views peacefully":

"We note that Ayman Nour's health situation appears to be deteriorating and we once again call upon the Egyptian government to consider his humanitarian release, as well as the release of demonstrators detained in recent weeks."

The United States is urging Egypt and other countries to open up their political systems. President George W. Bush says, "While our expectations must be realistic, our ideals must be firm and they must be clear. We expect higher standards from our friends and partners in the Middle East. The great and proud nation of Egypt, which showed the way toward peace in the Middle East can now show the way toward democracy."

The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.