Ayman Nour, one of Egypt's most prominent dissidents who was jailed after challenging the country's longtime president in the 2005 elections, was unexpectedly freed Wednesday after years of pressure from the United States.
Nour's jailing has troubled Egyptian-US relations for more than three years, and his sudden release may be a gesture to improve ties with US President Barack Obama's new administration.
Nour told The Associated Press from his Cairo home that he learned he was going to be freed only when a car arrived at the prison to take him home. "Why they did this is unknown," he said.
"I am coming out with an open heart and am ready to work and nothing has changed. A lot of things have been put on hold over the past years. ... I am ready to make a change this country," he told the AP in a telephone interview.