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Egypt frees dissident Nour for "health reasons"

Ayman Nour, Ghad party leader, will return to politics

Egyptian authorities freed opposition politician Ayman Nour Wednesday in what came as "sudden news" that surprised Nour and his supporters after more than three years in prison on forgery charges he said were politically motivated.

Cheers and trilling of joy filled the air of Ayman Nour's home in Zamalek neighborhood in Cairo as friends and members of the Gad party welcomed him home, while a demanding crowd of journalists from various news agencies gathered for interviews.

"We are more than joyous, we are thrilled out of belief that Mr. Nour has been released and is coming back to us," Warda Ali, assistant to Ayman Nour and Jameela Ismail, told AlArabiya.net

Nour told AlArabiya.net from his home that he plans to continue his work in politics through the opposition Ghad party.

"Thank God I am released and now here with my family and supporters," Nour told AlArabiya.net. "I plan to continue with my political advocacy as an Egyptian citizen."

Gameela Ismail, Nour's wife confirmed her husband's intention to resume his post as leader of the party, insinuating that he has plans for another presidential campaign.

"He will carry on with what he was doing prior to his imprisonment," Ismail told AlArabiya.net.

No political guarantees

While prosecution sources said Nour was released on health grounds, the newly freed Gad leader insisted the reasons for his release were political.

"The public prosecutor decided to free Ayman Nour for health reasons," the official told Reuters, requesting anonymity.

"I am sure my release was a political decision that could have only happened through coordination of political heads of state because the entire issue has been and is mainly a political one," Nour told AlArabiya.net, adding that his release came as "sudden news" to him and with no political deal in place.

The public prosecutor decided to free Ayman Nour for health reasons

Egyptian official

"I was not pressured into any agreement or political deal to be freed, infact I knew of my release a mere hour before it happened.," he said denying he had come under any political pressure to gain his freedom.

Nour mounted an unprecedented presidential campaign against the current President Hosni Mubarak during the 2005 presidential election but was immediately jailed on forgery charges after nearly overtaking Mubarak in Egypt's first multi-candidate presidential elections. on forgery charges many saw as trumped up.

Still optimistic

Nour and his wife said the Egyptian government was retaliating against them for daring to challenge Mubarak, who has ruled the most populous Arab country since 1981.

Despite three years of "political and personal hardship," Nour revealed the same optimism he showed during his presidential campaign.

"My determination has not ceased. I will work for a democratic future in Egypt and will rebuild the Gad party with the help of Egyptians who want to renew the liberal political current in the country," he added.

The U.S. administration of former President George W. Bush has called repeatedly on Egypt to release Nour. Cairo says its judiciary is independent and not politically motivated.

I am going to practice my role as a politician through the Ghad party and through my previous role