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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

24 December 2005

United States "Deeply Troubled" by Sentencing of Egypt's Nour

White House says action calls into question Egypt's commitment to democracy

The United States called for the release of Egyptian politician Ayman Nour and urged the Egyptian government to act in a manner consistent with “its professed desire for increased political openness,” in a statement released by the White House December 24.

The statement was issued in the wake of a court decision the same day that sentenced Nour, a runner up in Egypt’s September 7 presidential elections, to five years in prison for his alleged involvement in forging signatures on a registration petition.

Following the election, Nour, an outspoken critic of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, challenged the result, saying the elections were not transparent.

Nour’s status has been the subject of international concern. In a State Department fact sheet issued in July, his release from custody earlier this year was cited as one of the successes that the Group of Eight nations had helped accomplish in the Middle East. (See related article.)

In its December 24 statement, the White House said the sentencing “calls into question Egypt's commitment to democracy, freedom, and the rule of law.”

Those sentiments were echoed in a State Department statement issued later on December 24.

Following are the statements:

(begin text)

THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
December 24, 2005

STATEMENT BY THE PRESS SECRETARY

Conviction of Egyptian Politician Ayman Nour

The United States is deeply troubled by the conviction today of Egyptian politician Ayman Nour by an Egyptian court.  The conviction of Mr. Nour, the runner-up in Egypt's 2005 presidential elections, calls into question Egypt's commitment to democracy, freedom, and the rule of law.   We are also disturbed by reports that Mr. Nour's health has seriously declined due to the hunger strike on which he has embarked in protest of the conditions of his trial and detention.

The United States calls upon the Egyptian government to act under the laws of Egypt in the spirit of its professed desire for increased political openness and dialogue within Egyptian society, and out of humanitarian concern, to release Mr. Nour from detention.

(end text)

(begin text)

Press Statement
Sean McCormack, Spokesman
Washington, DC
December 24, 2005

Egypt: Conviction of Ayman Nour

The United States is troubled by the Egyptian court decision convicting civil reformer and former presidential candidate Ayman Nour. Mr. Nour's trial has been marred by irregularities and inconsistencies, and has failed to meet the international standards of transparency and respect for rule of law that the Egyptian Government has publicly espoused.

Mr. Nour's detention and sentencing raise serious concerns about the path of political reform and democracy in Egypt, and is inconsistent with the Egyptian Government's professed commitment to increased political openness and dialogue within Egyptian society.

We note reports that Ayman Nour's health appears to be deteriorating, and we urge the Egyptian Government to consider his humanitarian release.

The United States and the international community have been following with concern the Government of Egypt's handling of Ayman Nour's case. We will continue to press for his release.

(end text)

(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)



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