Two Canadian men remain jailed in an Egyptian prison with no end in sight after a prosecutor failed to show up to a scheduled hearing, reports today’s Toronto Star
“Lawyers for filmmaker John Greyson, 53, and his friend Dr. Tarek Loubani, 32, waited outside the Cairo prison in the hot sun for seven hours, but the prosecutor never appeared, said Greyson’s sister, Cecilia.
“We were all taken aback,” she said, sounding exhausted. “We were hopeful the meeting would take place… It’s been a frustrating day.”
“The lawyers were to meet with the Egyptian prosecutor to plead a case for releasing the men, presenting travel documents and official letters showing they were traveling through Cairo and had no intention of staying.
“The men were arrested Aug. 16 when they entered a police station to ask for directions. Their 15-day detention period ends Saturday, but they are now expected to remain in prison indefinitely until a new hearing takes place. Cecilia said the earliest a new hearing could happen would be next week, but nothing has been scheduled yet.
“It’s a bit of limbo. We do understand that things are chaotic there, but we need information,” she said.The prosecutor failed to show up to a number of scheduled meetings Thursday, leaving many lawyers and prisoners waiting, she added. Canadian consular officials have been helping facilitate meetings at the prison. No charges have been laid, but Egyptian prosecutors have alleged the men conspired with the Muslim Brotherhood in an attack on a police station. Minister of State Lynne Yelich issued a statement Thursday calling for the release of the two men.
“Canada remains deeply concerned about the cases of Dr. Loubani and Mr. Greyson and we are disappointed that the hearing scheduled for today did not take place,” she said.“We continue to work at the highest levels to confirm the specific charges against Dr. Loubani and Mr. Greyson. As we have not yet received confirmation of the charges, the Government of Canada calls for their release.” At the time of their arrest, Greyson and Loubani were en route to Gaza, where Loubani was to teach emergency room medicine and Greyson was thinking of producing a documentary, friends and family have said. The men have not spoken directly with their families but Cecilia has heard that they are in good spirits and health, despite being in an overcrowded cell crammed with other prisoners. A social media campaign supporting Greyson and Loubani has picked up steam, with more than 92,000 people signing a petition to free them. Filmmaker Atom Egoyan made an impassioned plea for their release in a video this week.
“The president of York University, where Greyson is an associate professor and director of the graduate film program, also issued a statement calling for the men to be freed.“The University has been in contact with government officials to express our deep concern for the welfare of Greyson and Loubani,” said Mamdouh Shoukri.
“Members of the York community, through local efforts, petitions, and statements, have been actively involved in supporting their safe return.”
In the meantime, Cecilia said her family is barely eating or sleeping, as they continue to wait for news.
“We’re extremely stressed out. It’s been pretty horrible for all of us.”