Canadians held without charge in Egypt headed home
11 October 2013, 18:29
Toronto - Two Canadians who were barred from leaving Egypt following weeks of imprisonment without charges were on their way home Friday.
Filmmaker John Greyson and physician Tarek Loubani said in a statement they that left Cairo on a flight Friday morning and are expected in Canada Friday night.
"''It's over," the statement said, adding that they can't wait to see their families.
Egypt lifted a travel ban for the two on Thursday. The pair weren't allowed to board a plane after they were released from jail Sunday.
Greyson and Loubani had been held without charges since Aug. 15, when they were arrested while observing a demonstration in support of ousted President Mohammed Morsi in which the Canadians said they saw at least 50 protesters killed.
The statement said their thoughts remain with the 600 detainees arrested on the same day as them and they urged Egyptian authorities to either charge them or free them.
Lynne Yelich, a junior minister responsible for consular affairs, thanked the Egyptian government in a statement for "its considerable assistance." The statement also included a cautionary note to Canadians to visit a Canadian government website, travel.gc.ca, "to read up on local laws before travelling."
Badr Abdel-Atty, Egypt's foreign ministry spokesman, said the two were accused of participating in illegal protests and for resisting authorities during arrest, like many others who were arrested on Aug. 15 by the Fatah mosque, where supporters of Morsi were holding a rally. He said the accusations against them had been dropped.
The two Canadians said Loubani heeded a call for a doctor and began treating wounded demonstrators while Greyson recorded the unrest on video. They said they were arrested after asking for directions back to their hotel at a police checkpoint. The pair released a statement from prison last month saying they were beaten and subjected to degrading treatment in the Egyptian prison. They said they spent most of the time crammed with other inmates in a filthy, cockroach-infested prison cell.
The pair staged a 16-day hunger strike to try to pressure Egyptian officials to release them, but started eating food again last week.
Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird had warned Egypt that their detention was a significant threat to relations between the two countries.