Egypt's leading political dissident, Ayman Nour, has told Northeastern University journalism students that he intends to go back to jail to serve the last four months of a prison sentence.
The three student journalists, part of a Northeastern group touring the Middle East, interviewed Nour on Sunday in his apartment in Cairo. Nour told them that the Egyptian government had released him from prison as a misleading gesture of its commitment to democracy. In fact, he told them, he has been treated worse since his release.
In an account on the students' blog on their travels, they reported: "In these four months, he said, the government has denied him basic rights, including practicing law, his primary profession, as well as opening a bank account."
Nour was sentenced to four years in prison in December 2005 for what the government said was forgery of signatures he needed to register his liberal opposition party, Al-Ghad, for the elections earlier that year. Nour said in the interview that he was confident he had received more votes than President Hosni Mubarak, but the official results gave Mubarak's party the victory.
The Northeastern journalism students are traveling through the Mideast and blogging about their experiences. The three students who met Nour, Kate Augusto, Danielle Capalbo and Nick Mendez, posted their account today of their meeting with Nour.
The Egyptian government released Nour in February, four months ahead of schedule, under pressure from the United States and other countries. He had gone on well-publicized hunger strikes and other protests while in custody. It wasn't clear whether there is any provision in Egypt for a prisoner to return to jail voluntarily to complete a sentence.
Nour said he would shortly inform the Egyptian government of his decision to go back to jail for the final four months of his term. His son, however, said he preferred his father to stay at home and would try to persuade him to change his mind.
About this blog
About James F. SmithJim Smith came home to his native Boston in 2002 to become the Boston Globe's foreign editor after spending 22 years abroad. He was previously based in Buenos Aires and Mexico City for the LA Times, and in Johannesburg, Tokyo and The Hague for the AP. In 2007 he became the Globe's national political editor, coordinating presidential campaign coverage. He is a Yale graduate, and has an MBA. He is married to Maxine Hart and has two sons, Matthew and Daniel.
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