Updated 1/10/11 7:50 p.m.

CHICAGO (STMW) — For now, a two-hour bedside visit with his ailing wife might be all George Ryan gets.

An appeals panel on Monday denied the former governor’s request to be released on bail so he could spend more time with his critically ill wife.

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Ryan had asked the Seventh U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to free him as he challenges his 2006 corruption conviction.

Lura Lynn Ryan, 76, has been undergoing treatment in critical care at a Kankakee hospital after going into septic shock last week.

But the appellate court said Ryan failed to meet the high legal standard required to free him now.

The court did address the Ryan family urgency, though, saying in its written findings: “We note that appellant’s attorneys have suggested the possibility that he might be released during the days so that he can be with his wife, and remain incarcerated at Kankakee at night. This possibility might be a humane way to address the personal aspect of his motion. As counsel recognize, however, a request for such an arrangement must be presented by the appellant to the Bureau of Prisons, because the Bureau is statutorily vested with the authority to take such action.”

Since Lura Lynn Ryan was hospitalized, George Ryan’s lawyers called on both the judicial and prison systems to show compassion and release Ryan so he could be with his wife, who has terminal lung cancer that has spread to several other organs

In an emergency request filed Wednesday with the Chicago-based federal appeals court, Ryan’s lawyers said Lura Lynn Ryan was undergoing chemotherapy and radiation treatment, despite having no hope of recovery, in hopes she might remain alive long enough to say goodbye to her husband.

The former governor quietly paid a two-hour visit to his wife’s bedside later that night, accompanied by prison escorts. The visit was approved by the warden of the federal prison in Terre Haute, Ind., where Ryan is serving a 6 1/2-year term, and was not made public in subsequent days.

On Thursday, Mayor Daley called on Ryan’s temporary release so he could say goodbye to his wife.

But on Friday, prosecutors revealed that Ryan had already paid his wife a two-hour visit. Anything more than that visit would amount to special treatment, prosecutors said.

Ryan’s lawyers did not make public his hospital visit, saying they were bound by prison policy not to disclose it, though prison officials said that wasn’t the case. Ryan’s lawyers blasted prosecutors for making the visit public.

Former Gov. Jim Thompson, a Ryan family friend, said Monday that he has read the appeals court’s opinion and Ryan’s legal team continues to pursue other avenues in an effort to get him out of prison.

Among them, Ryan himself requested a seven-day furlough, or temporary release, from the Bureau of Prisons on Monday. Ryan made that request directly with the prison.

Thompson also talked about the possibility of winning a longer release by relocating Ryan to the Kankakee County Jail.

“It depends on whether the Bureau of Prisons agrees with the court that this would be a humane thing to do,” Thompson said. “They undoubtedly have the authority to do it, as the court pointed out. So we will ask them to do it.”

Thompson said he will also renew a request for clemency with President Obama.

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