Canadians detained in Egypt are among nine foreign nationals held

OTTAWA – Egyptian news sources say two Canadians being detained in Cairo could be behind bars for more than two weeks while their case is examined.

The ONA news agency reports that a judge has ordered the two men — along with seven other foreign nationals — held for 15 days pending an investigation by prosecutors.

The report says the men are among dozens accused of being involved with the Muslim Brotherhood, and of trying to storm a police station in Cairo’s Ramses Square.

Toronto filmmaker John Greyson and London, Ont., doctor Tarek Loubani were arrested by Egyptian police Friday when they were in Cairo on their way to Gaza.

Justin Podur, a friend of the two detained Canadians, says he is aware of the reports but could not confirm details.

The Harper government says it is doing everything it can to get the men released and to learn more about the charges that they face.

The Al-Youm Al-Sabea newspaper says the Canadians are being held along with four Irish nationals, two Syrians and one person from Turkey.

The newspaper says the nine face a range of serious accusations, including belonging to an armed gang, threatening security and social peace, disabling public transport and communications and possession of firearms, ammunition and explosives.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Monday he was “extremely concerned” about the safety of the two Canadians, but that Ottawa had not been told why they were being detained.

The Irish Times reported Tuesday that the Irish embassy in Cairo was granted consular access to four Irish siblings who were among those detained after security forces stormed Cairo’s al-Fath mosque.

The four Irish nationals had reportedly taken refuge in the mosque after taking part in demonstrations against the ouster of Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi.

Canada’s junior foreign affairs minister, Lynne Yelich, has said it appears the Canadians were simply “two people … in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

The Canadian ambassador in Cairo paid a visit Monday to the Egyptian Foreign Ministry, demanding that Egyptian authorities explain the detentions.

About 900 people have been killed, including 100 police and soldiers, after authorities broke up Muslim Brotherhood protest camps in Cairo almost a week ago.