Excellent news! After 54 days of imprisonment and detainment in Cairo, Tarek Loubani and John Greyson are free and back home in Canada.
A huge thank you goes to the nearly 26,000 Care2 members who signed our petition urging Egyptian authorities to allow Loubani and Greyson to leave the country.
Loubani and Greyson were traveling together to the Gaza Strip for independent projects. Loubani is an emergency room physician and professor of emergency medicine at Western University, and had been traveling to Egypt in the hopes of establishing a working relationship between a local hospital in Gaza and the hospital he works for in Ontario. Greyson is an acclaimed filmmaker and professor of film at York University who had planned on filming material in Egypt covering the situation in Gaza.
Given the social and political climate of the area, the border to Gaza had been closed when they arrived on August 15, with protests happening in the entire city of Cairo. Unfortunately, neither of the men arrived at their final destination, as they were arrested while asking for directions at a police station in Cairo on August 16.
Police and other officials accused the men of planning an attack on the station and being “political mercenaries.” Following their arrests, Loubani and Greyson were held in the notorious Tora Prison, where both men suffered from beatings, hot-boxing, being denied phone calls and sleeping in squalid quarters. In September, Loubani and Greyson began a hunger-strike to protest the arbitrary nature of their arrest, which helped draw international attention to case. Prior to the strike, their sentences had been extended another 15 days, all without formal charge since being arrested in August.
After nearly two months in custody, the tide turned when Lynne Yelich, Canadian junior foreign affairs minister, announced that a release date had been secured for early October. Despite being blocked from leaving the country and experiencing delays after release, Loubani and Greyson eventually made their way back to Canada on October 11. Incidentally, while Loubani and Greyson are grateful to be back home, both men have expressed concern for fellow detainees who remain in custody in Egypt and hope the detainees experience the same support they have over the past seven weeks.
This victory release would not have been possible without the efforts of Amnesty International Canada, Loubani and Greyson’s families and the Care2 activist community. In addition, their release is another important success for their home country. In late September, fellow Canadian Hamid Ghassemi-Shall was released from Iranian custody after five years of imprisonment.
Photo Credit: Mary Kosta