Sunday, September 29, 2013

Hunger-striking Canadians to remain jailed for another 45 days in Egypt

CBC News 

Canadians in Egypt to be jailed for extra 45 days

John Greyson, Tarek Loubani jailed another 45 days in Egypt

September 29, 2013


Canadians John Greyson and Tarek Loubani, jailed in Egypt since their Aug. 16 arrest, have had their imprisonment extended for another 45 days, according to a friend who spoke with the pair's lawyers in Egypt.

The two men are on the 13th day of a hunger strike in Tora prison, south of Cairo.

Justin Podur, who has been posting updates on his blog, told CBC News he had received information from Greyson and Loubani's lawyers in Cairo about the extension.

Cecilia Greyson, John's sister, said their lawyers told her that everyone arrested on Aug. 16 during the violent protests have had their imprisonment extended for the same amount of time.

She said the lawyers have launched an appeal to free the men, with a decision possible next week.

"John and Tarek were simply witnesses on August 16th to a very bloody series of demonstrations where Tarek was trying to do emergency medical care simply because he was there and people needed a doctor at that point," Greyson told CBC News on Sunday.

"I don't know why the Egyptian government continues to press this case. It seems ludicrous from our standpoint."

Greyson is urging the prime minister to step in.

On Sunday afternoon, Lynne Yelich, Canada's Minister of State (Foreign Affairs and Consular) issued a statement saying she was "disappointed" to learn that the two men would remain in custody.

“Canada continues to press for a timely and positive resolution to this situation and, in the absence of confirmation of the charges, once again calls for their release," said the release.

“Minister Baird and I have been in close contact with Egyptian officials on multiple occasions, and our embassy in Cairo continues to meet with senior Egyptian government officials regularly on this case. The well-being of Dr. Loubani and Mr. Greyson is our top priority. We continue to receive consular access and are in regular contact with the Canadians’ lawyer and families.”

Day of arrest details posted

The news comes a day after Podur posted what Greyson and Loubani say is their full account of the day of their arrest.
Loubani, an emergency room doctor from London, Ont., and Greyson, a Toronto filmmaker and university professor, had been intending to make their way to the Gaza Strip last month when they were arrested. They both have family in the Maritimes — Greyson's sister lives in Halifax and Loubani has family in both Halifax and Bathurst, N.B.

In their statement, the two say they were stuck in Cairo and had decided to visit a protest in Ramses Square, five blocks from their hotel.

Within moments of arriving at the demonstration, they say chaos ensued, with wounded people being carried out of the square and gunshots ringing out. According to the statement, Loubani began helping the injured, at one point performing CPR, while Greyson filmed the scene. They say they witnessed the deaths of at least 50 people.

'Slapped, beaten, ridiculed'

Afterward, the pair say they were having trouble getting out of the police cordon and back to their hotel, asking for help at a checkpoint.

“That's when we were: arrested, searched, caged, questioned, interrogated, videotaped with a 'Syrian terrorist', slapped, beaten, ridiculed, hot-boxed, refused phone calls, stripped, shaved bald, accused of being foreign mercenaries.

Was it our Canadian passports, or the footage of Tarek performing CPR, or our ice cream wrappers that set them off? They screamed 'Canadian' as they kicked and hit us. John had a precisely etched bootprint bruise on his back for a week.”

According to Tarek’s brother, Mohammed, Canadian consular staff documented the pair’s injuries but told the families of the two not to publicly reveal the two men had been beaten.

“They were worried that the Egyptian authorities might cut our access off to Tarek and John if we publicized their mistreatment," he told CBC News.

Mohammed is also pressing the federal government to take the issue to a higher level.

"We believe it is now past due for the Prime Minister to call the Egyptian Prime Minister directly and highlight how damaging to Canada-Egypt relations this whole episode has been," he said in an email.

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