The wife of jailed Egyptian opposition politician Ayman Nour, the main challenger to Hosni Mubarak in a 2005 presidential election, said he was assaulted by security men on Saturday in a courthouse stairwell.
“He was beaten up in the court,” Gameela Ismail told Reuters. “They dragged him on the stairs … They dragged him and pushed and pulled him.” An Interior Ministry spokesman said he had no knowledge of any incident involving Nour, a diabetic who has heart problems but has so far failed to win an early release on health grounds.
Nour came a distant second to Mubarak in Egypt’s first multi-candidate presidential election in 2005. He is serving a 5-year jail term after being convicted of forging signatures to found his opposition Ghad party. He says the criminal charges were fabricated to keep him out of political life. He campaigned against Mubarak on a liberal secular platform and won 8 percent of the vote.
Nour had been in court in relation to a wrongful termination lawsuit he filed several years ago against a newspaper where he had worked as an editor until 2001, Ismail said.
She said Nour’s lawyers had reported that he was dragged and beaten when he refused to walk up several flights of stairs. He had asked to take the elevator, complaining of joint problems, she added.
Ismail said he told his lawyers that he had been assaulted by three officers, and that Nour’s lawyers had seen bruises on his legs and wrists.
An Egyptian government medical committee ruled earlier this year that Nour was healthy enough to serve out his prison term. The committee found Nour’s health was not in danger so long as he took his medication and meals regularly.
Egypt has come under Western pressure over Nour’s imprisonment. U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has called on Egypt to release him.
Egyptian rights groups say Nour’s health has seriously deteriorated since a cardiac catheterisation procedure in a Cairo hospital in December, aimed at finding out whether Nour needed heart surgery or stents to hold his arteries open.
Ismail has said her husband had an irregular heartbeat and had developed knee problems in prison that limited his mobility and required surgery.