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PM voices concern on jailed Canucks

Says Egypt hasn't stated why pair held

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 19/8/2013 (1460 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

OTTAWA -- Prime Minister Stephen Harper is joining the family members, friends and colleagues of two Canadians arrested in Egypt in expressing concern for the safety of the men.

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

Egyptian military and policemen carry coffins of off-duty policemen slain in Sinai.


Egyptian military and policemen carry coffins of off-duty policemen slain in Sinai.

The federal government has yet to be told on what basis Egyptian authorities detained the pair, Harper said Monday.

"We are obviously extremely concerned about the arrest and treatment of the two Canadian citizens who have been detained in Egypt," Harper said. "We don't frankly know what evidence supports any such arrest, and we have expressed our concerns directly to the Egyptian government."

But it appeared to be a case of "two people being in the wrong place at the wrong time," junior foreign affairs minister Lynne Yelich said in an emailed statement. Yelich also posted on Twitter the Canadian ambassador in Cairo paid a visit Monday to the Egyptian Foreign Ministry, demanding Egyptian authorities explain the detentions.

A number of other diplomatic levers were being pulled by the government to seek their release and to obtain more information.

A source at the Department of Foreign Affairs said Egypt's ambassador was summoned to meet Monday with senior Canadian officials in Ottawa to discuss the detentions.

The Canadian ambassador in Egypt met with the pair Sunday in the Cairo prison where they are being held and consular officials were expected to meet with them again Monday.

Although Canadian consular staff have been in contact with the pair, Egyptian authorities have yet to justify their detention, said Justin Podur, a friend of both men.

Greyson's family says in a statement they're confident the Canadian Embassy in Cairo is doing "everything they can" to free the pair.

In the same statement, Loubani's brother said while he recognizes Egypt is going through a painful transition, detaining a doctor and filmmaker without due process is "clearly a step in the wrong direction."

"The Egyptian transitional government has frequently repeated its commitment to democratic values and the rule of law," said Mohammed Loubani. "The continued detention of John and Tarek clearly falls short of that commitment."

Two medical groups, a film festival organization and York University are calling for the release of the two Canadians. Thousands have also signed an online petition demanding the pair be set free.

-- The Canadian Press


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