Canadians detained in Egypt could be held for another two weeks
Published Tuesday, August 20, 2013 12:47PM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, August 20, 2013 9:59PM EDT
Two Canadians detained in Egypt are facing serious accusations and could be held in custody for two more weeks.
But their family members and friends say the allegations are “far-fetched” and the men should be released immediately.
London, Ont. doctor Tarek Loubani and Toronto-based filmmaker John Greyson were arrested last Friday in Cairo, where they had stopped on their way to a Gaza hospital.
Sources have told CTV News that the pair was detained after stopping at a police station soon after it was attacked in the ongoing violence that has gripped Egypt. Loubani and Greyson were apparently looking for directions to their hotel.
The two men are now being held in prison along with several other foreigners – a Turkish photographer, four siblings from Ireland, and two Syrian nationals. It’s believed that they’ve endured physical abuse.
According to Egypt’s ONA news agency, all of them may be held for 15 days pending an investigation. The agency said the Canadians are among dozens accused of being involved with the Muslim Brotherhood and trying to storm a Cairo police station.
A news release from the prosecutor general does not name the detained foreigners, but says they face wide-ranging accusations, including murder, attempted murder, threatening security and social peace and possession of firearms and explosives.
It’s not clear if all those charges apply to all nine detainees.
In a statement, Greyson’s sister Cecilia said there have been “absolutely no allegations against Tarek and John relayed to consular officials or to their Egyptian lawyer, despite their arrest and imprisonment since August 16.”
She said events cited by the prosecutors “happened on separate days and in separate locations, including arrests occurring on August 14 (when John and Tarek were still in Canada) and on August 17 (when John and Tarek were in custody).
“The prosecution’s press release is a clear attempt to put a group of foreigners arrested at different times and places into a single group to create a far-fetched story about foreigners to justify ongoing imprisonment,” she said.
Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Lynne Yelich said Tuesday that she and Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird discussed the situation with Egypt’s ambassador to Canada and expressed their concerns about the detained Canadians.
“We were disappointed to learn today that Dr. Loubani and Mr. Greyson will continue to be held in detention” she said in a written statement.
“The Government of Canada is deeply disappointed by this decision as there continues to be a lack of evidence. The Egyptian Ambassador has committed to press for a timely and positive resolution to this matter.
“Canada will continue to engage with the highest levels until this matter is resolved.”
The Canadian ambassador in Cairo visited the Egyptian Foreign Ministry on Monday, demanding that Egyptian authorities explain the detentions.
With a report from CTV’s Daniele Hamamdjian and files from The Canadian Press