Updated: Canadian filmmaker and emergency room doctor arrested in Cairo


TORONTO – A friend of two Canadians who was one of the last people they contacted before being arrested in Cairo says he’s “very much” concerned about their safety.

“They’re in an Egyptian prison in one of the worst weeks in Egyptian history,” said Justin Podur.

The pair were in Cairo en route to Gaza when they were arrested by Egyptian police amidst the deadly turmoil affecting the country’s capital, said Podur, who is a friend and colleague of the Canadians.

Podur says the two are Toronto based filmmaker and York University professor John Greyson and Tarek Loubani, an emergency room doctor in London, Ont.

Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Caitlin Workman confirmed that two Canadians have been arrested and says Canada’s embassy in Cairo is in contact with local authorities and is providing consular assistance, however, she says privacy concerns prevent her from releasing any further information.

Podur says Western University in London, Ont has a collaboration program that brings doctors to Gaza to train doctors there and advance cardiac and trauma life support.

He says Greyson was travelling to explore the possibility of making a documentary about Al Shifa hospital in Gaza.

The two professors arrived in Cairo on Aug. 15 but their journey to Gaza was delayed due to unrest.

“Given all the unrest it was quite problematic and dangerous to travel to the border,” Podur says and adds “across the Sinai is dangerous, the border crossing itself is dangerous.”

Podur says they were arrested around 10 p.m. on Friday, which is after a curfew currently imposed in Cairo, but Podur was uncertain whether they were picked up with several hundred others arrested for being outside after curfew or whether it was for another reason.

He said the last he heard from them was a phone call from Loubani saying they had been arrested by the Egyptian police.

Cairo has been the centre of escalating protests by supporters of deposed president Mohammed Morsi. The unrest has seen hundreds of people killed and injured.

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Updated: Canadian filmmaker and emergency room doctor arrested in Cairo

  1. Boohoo… you messed your bed now live with it. Watch out for that camel dung! Why would they even consider going there at this time. For 2 intelligent (I use the word lightly) people they didn’t act too smart. Now I suppose it’s up to us poor old taxpayers to bail their r soles out of there. I say let them rot over there.

  2. If going to Gaza, why are they in Egypt? Be like me going to Alaska to get to Hawaii.

    Probably more to this story than we are told. As if wanted to go to Gaza, I would go through Israel that isn’t in turmoil. But then, I wouldn’t be hiding anything.

    • I agree. To get to Gaza through Israel, which has daily traffic through to Gaza to bring in tons of supplies and to bring out Gazan produce to market in Israel, is much easier than trying to move around in a shattered country filled with Westerner-haters who view every non-Muslim there as a Mossad agent. And then what were they going to do — traverse the Sinai, filled with al-Qaida cells, smugglers and bandits, and somehow get through the tunnels to Gaza that Egypt just blew up a couple of weeks ago? Or perhaps they were going to navigate a rubber dinghy from Alexandria to some Gaza beach.

      Yeah, this was an innocent, believable plan. Uh-huh.