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Last Updated: Saturday, 24 December 2005, 14:36 GMT
Egyptian opposition leader jailed
Ayman Nour
The Egyptian government says the court trying Nour is neutral
Egyptian opposition leader Ayman Nour has received a five-year jail term after being found guilty of fraud.

Nour, who came second in a presidential poll in September, was first held in January this year accused of falsifying signatures to register his party, Ghad.

Egypt denies Nour's claim that the charges are politically motivated. And the US has voiced concern at the trial.

Hundreds of Nour's supporters at the court shouted slogans against President Hosni Mubarak as the verdict was given.

"Hosni Mubarak's rule is illegal! The trial is illegal!" they chanted.

According to the BBC's Bethany Bell in Cairo, the streets near the court were full of riot police and Ghad party supporters.

Nour has been in hospital after starting a hunger strike earlier this month in protest at his detention.

US concern

His lawyer, Amir Salim, is quoted by the Associated Press news agency as saying the decision against him will "go into the dustbin of history".

"This is a political verdict that will be annulled by the appeal court," he said.

A co-defendant in the trial, Ayman Ismail, had admitted forging documents for Nour - but later withdrew his testimony, saying the confession was forced out of him with threats against his family.

Despite the charges against him, Nour was allowed to compete in presidential polls, where his party finished second to Mr Mubarak's.

He lost his assembly seat to a candidate from the ruling party in November.

The has US earlier said it was watching Nour's trial, which it regards as a test of Cairo's tolerance of dissent.

State department spokesman Adam Ereli said this month that the US was calling on Egypt "to make every effort to ensure that this trial conforms to international standards".

Profile: Ayman Nour
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11 Oct 05 |  Middle East
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06 Jul 05 |  Middle East

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