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07CAIRO2751 2007-09-10 14:59:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Cairo
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1. (C) According to unnamed GOE sources quoted in press
accounts, the September 6 death in prison of Ayman Ismail
Hassan, who played a pivotal role in the GOE's prosecution of
opposition leader Ayman Nour in 2005 (reftel), has been ruled
a suicide by hanging. Ayman Nour's supporters are, however,
alleging that Ayman Hassan's death was suspicious. Although
there is no available evidence to support the claims that
Ayman Hassan's death was caused by foul play, Ayman Nour's
camp is seizing this opportunity to raise doubts about the
GOE's version of events.

2. (C) Ayman Hassan, who was both a codefendant with Nour
as well as a witness against him, caused a sensation in
Nour's 2005 forgery trial when, on June 30, 2005, he recanted
his initial testimony against Nour and alleged that the GOE
security services had coerced his testimony by threatening
his family. The presiding judge, Adel Abdul Salaam Gomaa,
later chose to disregard Ayman Hassan's disavowal, and
eventually convicted Hassan along with Nour and several other
defendants on forgery charges.

3. (C) Hassan, who reportedly suffered from psychological
problems, had spent most of his imprisonment in Cairo's Bab
al-Khalk Isti'naf (Appeals) Prison. According to Ayman
Nour's lawyer, Amir Salem (protect), the Isti'naf facility is
the GOE's preferred detention facility for inmates with
psychiatric problems and includes special cells and
procedures intended to prevent suicidal inmates from
attempting to take their own lives.

4. (C) Lawyer Amir Salem told poloff on September 6 that he
believed that Ayman Hassan's death was suspicious and he
would call for an investigation. Salem also told poloff that
he had been on the verge of filing another appeal on Ayman
Nour's behalf, based on Hassan's recanted testimony. In
subsequent press interviews, Salem has asserted that Ayman
Hassan's death was not a suicide and should be fully
investigated. Leading independent daily Al-Masry Al-Youm
published a statement from Ayman Nour on September 10 in
which Nour alleged that he was skeptical of the GOE's
assertion that Hassan committed suicide. Nour further
alleged, without providing details, that he had "proof" that
Hassan had been "slaughtered."