London emergency room doctor Tarek Loubani and Toronto filmmaker John Greyson have been freed from a Cairo prison where they have been held since Aug 16, reports the London Free Press.
As of this writing, the two had not been granted transit out of Egypt, however. They were blocked from boarding a plane earlier today and remain in Cairo, albeit not in custody. What follows is an initial account of the news of their release from jail.
“We’re over the moon,” Cecilia Greyson told the Free Press Saturday evening. Greyson said she spoke to her brother John Greyson about 11 p.m., confirming that the two had been released. “They are doing really well,” Cecilia Greyson said. The pair are now in a Cairo hotel and will be returning to Canada once arrangements have been completed. Mohammed Loubani, a brother of Tarek, said he spoke briefly on the phone to his brother after they were released.
“He’s okay, everything considered,” Mohammed said. But he said the two remain in a precarious situation as long as they are still in Egypt.
“I won’t be celebrating until they are on a plane back to Canada,” he said. Passports and other arrangements still have to be made to get his brother and Greyson back home, he said. Mohammed said he was first alerted earlier Saturday evening that the two could be released and was advised they would be moved to a police station and then be picked up by Canadian consular officials. Loubani and Greyson were arrested in Cairo on their way to Gaza as part of a medical mission. According to a statement released by the pair, they were arrested and beaten after witnessing the deaths of more than 50 protesters. Their detention drew international attention with the Canadian government warning Egypt that it could jeopardize relations between the two countries.
In a statement, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Lynne Yelich said Canada welcomes the decision to release Tarek Loubani and John Greyson.
“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.
“Minister Baird and I were in contact with senior Egyptian officials on numerous occasions concerning this case, and the Embassy of Canada to Egypt worked tirelessly to secure their release,” Yelich said in the statement.
“I wish to express our appreciation to the Egyptian authorities for providing consistent consular access,” Yelich added.