TORONTO – Two Canadians who had been unable to leave Egypt following their release after 50 days of imprisonment started their journey home Friday and say they can’t wait to see their families and share hugs and laughs.
John Greyson and Tarek Loubani issued a statement saying they flew out of Cairo.
“It’s over. At 9:40 a.m., Cairo local time, we took off from Cairo international airport on a flight back home,” their statement says, adding that they’re scheduled to arrive in Toronto on Friday evening.
“We cannot wait to see our families, who will be waiting for us in the city where we can share hugs, tears and laughs privately.”
Greyson, a Toronto filmmaker and professor, and Loubani, a London, Ont., doctor, had been detained in a Cairo prison since their arrest Aug. 16.
They said they had to endure squalid and oppressive conditions until they were suddenly freed last Sunday. But they were prevented from boarding a flight out of the country that same day after their names appeared on a “stop-list” issued by prosecutors.
Badr Abdel-Atty, Egypt’s foreign ministry spokesman, said the two were accused of participating in illegal protests and or resisting authorities during arrest, like many others during a protest by supporters of ousted Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi.
But Abdel-Atty said Thursday that accusations against them had been dropped and the pair had been cleared to leave Egypt.
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 and beaten after leaving the scene of the protests.
“Our thoughts remain with the 600 detainees arrested on the same day as us and their families,” their statement says. “We make the same demand for them on day #54 of their detention that you made for us: Charge them or free them so they can have their day of hugs, tears and laughs soon, too.”
A statement from Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Lynne Yelich says “Canada joins the families” of both men in “welcoming their return to Canada.”
“I thank the Government of Egypt for its considerable assistance in this matter and for providing regular consular access,” said Yelich in her statement early Friday.
The statement also included a cautionary note to Canadians to “visit travel.gc.ca to read up on local laws before travelling.”