Canadians detained without charges are released

Joel Gulhane
3 Min Read

Egyptian authorities have released two Canadians who were detained without charge for 50 days.  Tarek Loubani and John Greyson were released on Saturday and Canadian officials helped to facilitate their transport back to Canada.

Lynne Yelich, Canadian Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, announced on Saturday that the pair had been released and that Canada welcomes the decision.

No further details are available on the circumstances of their release. “We are facilitating Dr. Loubani and Mr Greyson’s departure from Egypt,” Yelich said, adding that embassy officials in Egypt would continue to provide them with consular services.

Justin Podur, a friend and colleague of Loubani’s, said on Sunday in a Twitter post, “they are awaiting passports and when they get them we will get them booked on a flight home.”

Podur and Greyson’s sister, Cecilia Greyson, have been campaigning for the release of the two Canadian nationals since they were detained on 16 August in the aftermath of violent clashes in Ramses Square.

Loubani and Greyson ended a hunger strike earlier this week, which they began one month into their detention, to protest what Ms Greyson described as “an arbitrary process that lacks any credibility.”

The detained pair was able to send a letter to their friends and family, which was published on the campaign website. The letter described a beating they received from Egyptian security personnel and conditions in Tora prison. The day after the letter was published, an Egyptian court ruled to extend their detention by 45 days.

Egypt’s foreign ministry published a statement last week stressing that Loubani and Greyson had not been detained under the emergency law, currently in place in Egypt, but rather in accordance with the Egyptian penal code. The ministry claimed that they were facing official charges of “participating in violent demonstrations and resisting security forces.” The prosecutor never announced formal charges against the Canadian nationals. The ministry statement also denied any allegations of mistreatment.

Greyson is an award-winning filmmaker and Loubani is a doctor. They were en route to Gaza where Loubani would be providing training for Gazan doctors and Greyson intended to make a short film. Egyptian authorities had closed the border to Gaza, forcing the pair to remain in Cairo. They then went to Ramses Square to film the protests on 16 August, and say they were arrested when they asked police for directions back to their hotel.

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Joel Gulhane is a journalist with an interest in Egyptian and regional politics. Follow him on Twitter @jgulhane