Canadians released from Egyptian jail after 7 weeks without charges
HAMILTON (CUP) — After being held captive for seven weeks in Egypt under no formal charges, Canadians Tarek Loubani and John Greyson were released on Saturday, Oct. 5. However, when they tried to board a plane to Frankfurt, Germany on Sunday, Oct. 6, the two were told they could not fly out because they were on a “stop-list” issued by Egyptian prosecutors.
The stop-list is yet another roadblock in the Canadians’ two-month struggle to get home safely.
Loubani is an emergency doctor at Western University in London, Ont. and Greyson is a filmmaker and professor at York University in Toronto. Both were on their way to a Gaza hospital in mid-August when they were detained by Cairo officials. Egyptian officials arrested them, along with other perceived protestors at the site, for threatening national security. No charges were ever laid.
In Canada, news of their captivity prompted nearly 150,000 people to sign a petition for their release. Their plight was also a popular topic at the Toronto International Film Festival, where Canadian filmmakers held a press conference. Friends and family told the media the men were simply “in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
After 31 days in detention, Loubani and Greyson resolved to go on a hunger strike. On Sept. 28, their twelfth day on hunger strike, the two released a statement confirming that they had been living in dire conditions: “no phone calls, little to no exercise, sharing a 3m x 10m cell with 36 other political prisoners, sleeping like sardines on concrete with the cockroaches; sharing a single tap of earthy Nile water.”
Despite the public outcry against their detainment, the Canadians were told by Egyptian officials on Sept. 29 that their detainment would be extended by 45 days.
On Sept. 29, Prime Minister Harper issued a statement calling for their immediate release. The two men were officially released on Oct. 5. Three days prior to their release, Loubani and Greyson had begun eating again and saw a doctor.
Canadian Minister of State Lynne Yelich released a statement on Oct. 5 saying, “We are facilitating Dr. Loubani and Mr. Greyson’s departure from Egypt, and Canadian officials will continue to offer consular services to them and their families as needed.”