December 17, 2005

Hunger striking Egypt politician taken to hospital

CAIRO (Reuters) - Egyptian opposition politician Ayman Nour
was taken to a prison hospital after his health deteriorated on
the eighth day of a hunger strike in protest at being detained
on forgery charges, his wife said on Saturday.

Nour, who came a distant runner up in September's
presidential election, is a diabetic and doctors said the
hunger strike could lead to a coma and eventually death as his
blood becomes more acidic, compromising his vital organs.

"He has been moved to the prison hospital ... suffering
from a high level of acetone in his blood and urine, which
eventually leads to a coma and threatens his life," Nour's wife
and spokeswoman Gameela Ismail told Reuters by telephone.

Nour was detained on December 5, during his trial with six
others on accusations they forged the papers required for his
party's official recognition last year. The court said the
verdict would be read on December 24.

The United States, which has called for greater political
freedom in Egypt, says it is watching the trial closely. Nour
was first held for questioning in January and released in March
when the United States put pressure on Cairo.

Nour, who heads the liberal Ghad party, says his trial is
politically motivated, but the government says it is neutral.

Ismail said doctors were insisting they correct the
imbalance in Nour's blood with fluids administered
intravenously. She said he intended to continue to refuse to
eat, but is considering the fluid replacement.