Detained Canadian thrown in notorious Cairo prison without charge: family
Published Sunday, February 24, 2019 12:21PM EST Last Updated Sunday, February 24, 2019 9:55PM EST
An Ontario woman is pleading with Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to call Egypt and demand the release of her Canadian father, who was thrown into a Cairo prison without any apparent explanation.
Amal Ahmed Albaz tells CTV News Channel that her father, Yasser Ahmed Albaz, was about to board a plane on his way back to Canada last Monday when he sent his family a message saying that he had been “flagged.” He later sent another message telling his family that he loves them, and then contact stopped.
“Yesterday my father was taken to the state security prosecutor’s office for questioning and we don’t know what this questioning is about,” Albaz told CTV News on Sunday.
“Our family lawyer was informed and he was present for that. The Canadian embassy was also informed,” she said.
“After that, he was transported to Tora prison which is the worst prison in all of Egypt,” Albaz added. “We’re very, very concerned over my father’s safety.”
Human Rights Watch has described Tora as “the central site for those deemed enemies of the state.”
Albaz says that her father has been in Canada for two decades and that he runs an engineering firm in Oakville, Ont. She says she has no idea why he was detained.
“He has a client in Egypt and that’s why he was there for that time,” she said.
“My father has no political affiliations,” Albaz added. “He’s not politically active whatsoever. His business is engineering; it has nothing to do with state security or anything like that.”
Albaz said she hopes the Canadian government will intervene. Minister Freeland’s office did not respond to a request for comment.
“It’s like they’re trying to fish for something but there’s nothing to fish for,” Albaz added.
“My biggest concern right now is if this escalates to any fabricated charges, which is very common in Egypt,” she said.
Friends at the Oakville mosque where Albaz sits on the board said that they are praying for him.
Ferras Marish has known Albaz for 15 years and says that he can’t think of any reason to justify the detention.
“The only thing I could think of is it’s just a name match,” Marish said, noting that it’s common in Middle Eastern countries for many people to share the same names.
Marish said he’s very concerned.
“We’re used to a just system where mistakes can happen but then once it’s cleared, it’s cleared,” he said. “Unfortunately, I don’t think that will be the case in Egypt.”