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Egyptian Opposition Leader Enters Not Guilty Plea as Trial Opens

Ayman Nour, shouts from inside his court cell as he is greeted by supporters

Egypt's leading opposition candidate for president has gone on trial on charges he forged campaign documents in his push to unseat President Hosni Mubarak in September elections.

Ayman Nour, the head of Egypt's Ghad party, pleaded not guilty today in a Cairo courtroom ringed by police and mobbed by hundreds of his supporters. He entered his plea from inside a steel cage in the courtroom, before the trial was adjourned to Thursday.

Defense lawyers claim the charges have been fabricated to cripple their client's political campaign. His wife called the trial a nightmare.

The charges have strained ties between Egypt and the United States, as the Bush administration continues to press its long-time ally to support democratic change.

In March, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice canceled a trip to Cairo to protest the Nour arrest. She met with the defendant last week, when she finally made her visit.

Some information for this story provided by Reuters and AP.