Tarek Loubani and John Greyson free from prison, Foreign Affairs officials report - Macleans.ca
 

Tarek Loubani and John Greyson free from prison, Foreign Affairs officials report


 

CAIRO – Two Canadians held for seven weeks in an Egyptian prison in what they’ve described as brutal conditions have been freed, Canadian officials announced Saturday.

There were few other details on the release of John Greyson and Dr. Tarek Loubani, who were arrested on Aug. 16 during violent anti-government demonstrations in Cairo.

“I look forward to Dr. Loubani and Mr. Greyson being reunited with their families and friends, who have shown tremendous strength during this difficult time,” Lynne Yelich, a junior minister responsible for consular affairs said in a statement late Saturday.

“We are facilitating Dr. Loubani and Mr. Greyson’s departure from Egypt,” the statement added.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper also welcomed the news of the release of the two Canadians, issuing a statement from the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur where he`s continuing a visit aimed at strengthening ties with that Southeast Asian nation.

“The government of Canada has obviously been pushing for that and welcomes this decision by the government of Egypt and we look forward to seeing these two Canadian citizens return home in the not too distant future.”

Greyson and Loubani were released Sunday morning but there has been no confirmed word on exactly when they will be returning to Canada.

“They are awaiting passports and when they get them we will get them booked on a flight home,” Justin Podur, a friend, said on Twitter late Saturday.

The two men’s families couldn’t immediately be reached for comment, but Greyson’s sister expressed her relief through social media.

“Christmas comes early this year! Thanks to everyone who worked so hard to #freeandtarekandjohn,” Cecilia Greyson tweeted.

Greyson’s sister Cecilia flew to Toronto Sunday morning after hearing of the pair’s sudden release. She told the local TV station CP24 that she spoke to her brother Saturday for the first time in more than 50 days and was relieved to find him healthy and happy.

“He sounded really good, actually,” Cecilia Greyson said after landing at Pearson airport. “He sounded just like normal — he was happy and cracking jokes and sounded healthy.”

Both men are staying in a hotel in Cairo while they ease back into normal life, she told the TV station.

“They have to take a couple days and get everything organized before they come back,” she said, adding no date has been set for their return.

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne expressed her relief that the two Ontarians were free.

“Proud of everyone who worked so hard to bring them home,” she said in a Twitter post.

Greyson, a Toronto based filmmaker and Loubani, an emergency room doctor from London, Ont. have said they planned to stay in the Egyptian capital only briefly on their way to Gaza last month.

They issued a statement from prison last month indicating they had decided to check out protests that were close to their hotel and saw at least 50 protesters killed. Loubani stopped to treat some injured protesters and Greyson filmed the carnage.

Their statement said that after leaving the scene of the protests they asked police for directions and were stopped and beaten and taken into custody.

Subsequently Egyptian prosecutors accused them of “participating with members of the Muslim Brotherhood” in an attack on a police station, but never laid any charges.

The two Canadians said they spent most of their time crammed with other inmates in a filthy, cockroach-infested prison cell as they awaited word on their fate.

The pair staged a 16 day hunger strike to try to pressure Egyptian officials to release them, but started eating food again last week.

Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird and other Canadian officials intensely lobbied Egyptian officials for weeks, demanding that the pair either be charged with a crime or released.

Baird spoke with his Egyptian counterpart for an hour late last month lobbying on the two men’s behalf.


 
Filed under:

Tarek Loubani and John Greyson free from prison, Foreign Affairs officials report

  1. About time this happened. Harper failed to act until the pressure from the public intensified.

    Harper is a disgrace with no concern for the human rights of Canadians wrongfully detained by a brutal and corrupt military regime.

    Now Egypt has to be pressured to stop all its human rights violations before a new surge of public protests.

    • You have no idea what efforts were being made through diplomatic channels, all behind the scenes and away from the media’s prying eyes, as such delicate issues need to be handled.

  2. I’m very grateful for the quiet and persistent diplomacy that brought about this happy ending. The thing about secret diplomacy, is that it needs to be secret.

  3. I see commenters on previous articles suggested that Loubani and Greyson
    should take responsibility for getting into that bit of trouble; or, as Ian
    Gillespie would say, people are still blaming them for their ordeal. See
    ‘London doctor Tarek Loubani, John Greyson shouldn’t be blamed for ordeal in
    Egypt, By Ian Gillespie, LFP, October 3, 2013.
    http://www.lfpress.com/2013/10/03/gillespie-tarek-loubani-john-greyson-should-not-blamed-for-their-ordeal-in-egypt

    Greyson’s sister explained in
    Gillespie’s piece that “they literally walked out of their hotel (in Cairo) and
    there was a demonstration happening very close . . . and somebody called for a
    doctor, and if you’re a doctor and someone calls for help, you respond.” Well,
    that’s nice to know, at least, that some doctors still have integrity and are
    more than willing to do their job, even under harsh circumstances.