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Dissident Ayman Nour released following concerns over his health

(Freedom House/IFEX) - The following is an 18 February 2009 Freedom House press release:

Nour Release Welcomed, but Thousands Remain Unjustly Jailed
Washington, February 18, 2009 - Freedom House welcomes today's release of Egyptian dissident Ayman Nour and urges President Hosni Mubarak to release Egypt's remaining political prisoners. Nour, who was jailed on dubious forgery charges after challenging President Hosni Mubarak in the 2005 elections, was released after more than three years in prison. Authorities said he was released because of health issues related to diabetes and a heart condition.

The Egyptian government responded today to the persistent appeals of the international community and Egyptian political activists who have decried Nour's imprisonment as politically motivated, aimed at silencing the most viable opponent to Mubarak's rule.

"Nour's release is a welcome development," said Paula Schriefer, Freedom House advocacy director. "Now we hope that Nour and others have the opportunity to actively engage in the political process and upcoming elections without the fear of government repression."

Freedom House calls on President Mubarak to release the thousands of other political prisoners who are still being held and to open up the country's political system to allow genuine competition leading up to the 2010 parliamentary and 2011 presidential elections. Government security forces regularly imprison and harass human rights advocates, democratic reformers, independent journalists and bloggers.

Government prosecutors recently filed treason charges against exiled democracy advocate Saad Eddin Ibrahim for his outspokenness about Egyptian human rights offenses and the need for democratic reform. Freedom House is also monitoring the case of Karim Amer, the first Egyptian blogger to be tried and sentenced for writing blogs critical of President Mubarak, Egypt's religious authorities and Islam. Amer is serving a four-year sentence for charges including "spreading information disruptive of public order and damaging to the country's reputation" as well as "defaming the President of the Republic."

Egypt is ranked Not Free in the 2009 edition of Freedom in the World, Freedom House's survey of political rights and civil liberties, and in the 2008 version of Freedom of the Press.

For more information on Egypt, visit:

Freedom in the World 2009: Overview http://www.freedomhouse.org/uploads/fiw09/FIW09_OverviewEssay_Final.pdf

Freedom in the World 2008: Egypt http://www.freedomhouse.org/template.cfm?page=22&year=2008&country=7387

Freedom of the Press 2008: Egypt http://www.freedomhouse.org/template.cfm?page=251&year=2008

Updates the Nour case: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/80610

For more information on the Ibrahim case, see: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/96029

For more information on the Amer case, see: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/98386

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