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Egyptian Opposition Leader on Hunger Strike

Egyptian opposition leader Ayman Nour has gone on a hunger strike to protest his treatment in prison. He is facing charges of forgery in connection to his bid for the presidency earlier this year, in which he finished second. The judge has adjourned the trial for another week and a half.

Chaos erupted in the courtroom after inflammatory comments by one of the attorneys for another defendant in the trial.

Defense lawyers for several of Mr. Nour's six co-accused were blaming him for their clients' predicament. In a closing argument, one lawyer accused Mr. Nour of being a traitor and an agent of foreign governments, prompting howls of protest from Mr. Nour's lawyers.

A shouting match erupted in the middle of the courtroom as the men challenged each other, with their black judicial robes waving.

The judge presiding over the trial got up and stormed out of the courtroom. He did not return until order was restored.

After the last defense argument and a final statement from the prosecution, he adjourned the trial until December 24, when he is expected to issue a verdict.

Ayman Nour is on trial on charges that he forged signatures on a petition to legally register his political party last year.

The opposition leader was free on bail until last week. He has been held in police custody since then on the judge's orders.

Mr. Nour says he has gone on a hunger strike to protest his treatment in jail.

"I have been on a hunger strike since the day before yesterday," said Ayman Nour. "I am not being given my visitation rights."

According to Mr. Nour, police are treating him as if he has already been convicted. He complained that he is being denied the opportunity to meet with his lawyers and his family.

A small group of Mr. Nour's supporters protested outside the courtroom all day, banging a drum and chanting for his freedom.

Mr. Nour placed a distant second to President Hosni Mubarak in September's presidential election, earning about eight percent of the vote. He then lost his seat in parliament during a troubled legislative election that has been marred by violence and voter intimidation.