Prominent Egyptian dissident's appeal rejected

An Egyptian court on Tuesday turned down a request from the country's leading opposition prisoner to review whether his jail sentence was endangering his health. The development came as US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice - who has in the past called for greater democratic reform in Egypt but recently eased off pressure on Cairo - was in the country. Rice and US Defense Secretary Robert Gates were meeting with nine Arab allies here to rally support for the US-backed Shi'ite-led government in Baghdad. The court in Cairo said that expert reports presented by leading opposition dissident in jail, Ayman Nour, did not prove that his condition was life-threatening, according to the semiofficial Middle East News Agency. Nour, who is serving a five-year prison sentence for allegedly forging signatures on petitions to register his political party, has complained of heart and eye problems. A diabetic dependent on insulin, he also underwent cardiovascular surgery while in prison.