Professors released from Egyptian prison, await exit from country
By Adela Talbot
October 10, 2013
Following weeks with no charges in an Egyptian prison, London physician and Western professor Tarek Loubani and Toronto filmmaker and York University professor John Greyson were freed last weekend, only to be stopped at the airport on their way to Germany, having been placed on a ‘stop list’ by Egyptian prosecutors.
According to Canada’s Foreign Affairs Ministry, the men may not leave Egypt pending an ongoing investigation and the remaining possibility of criminal charges stemming from their arrest during anti-government demonstrations in August.
Loubani and Greyson were en route to the Gaza Strip where the London doctor was working on a medical mission Greyson planned to document. They were arrested along with roughly 600 others on Aug. 16 and detained in Egypt’s notorious high-security Tora prison, where they endured a voluntary hunger strike and less-than favourable conditions for nearly seven weeks.
The Canadian government “has obviously been pushing for (their release) and welcomes this decision by the government of Egypt and we look forward to seeing these two Canadian citizens return home in the not too distant future,” said Prime Minister Stephen Harper, in a statement from Malaysia on his way to the Asia-Pacific leaders summit.
Upon hearing the initial news of the men’s release on Saturday, Western President Amit Chakma released a statement praising the Canadian government and members of the Western’s community for their dedication to Loubani and Greyson’s freedom.
“We appreciate the efforts by the Canadian government to secure the release of Loubani and Greyson. I also want to say how proud I am of the members of Western’s community for their vigilance in maintaining a heightened awareness of the plight of these two men,” Chakma said. “As friends and colleagues, we look forward to the welcoming Dr. Loubani back to Western.”
And while friends, family and colleagues in Canada were likewise initially pleased to hear Loubani and Greyson could come home, news of them being on a no-fly list until charges against all 600-something detainees are cleared deflated the excitement Monday.
Even though Loubani and Greyson are now in a hotel room instead of a jail cell, officials say the wait for the investigation’s completion could be long and their lawyers are planning an appeal to remove their clients’ names off the no-fly list.
The men’s unexpected release last weekend coincided with more violent clashes in Cairo, where at least 50 people were killed.
Loubani and Greyson’s arrest followed violent clashes in August in Tahrir Square, where Loubani, unable to cross to the Gaza Strip, responded to calls for medical assistance and Greyson filmed demonstrations. By the men’s account, they witnessed at least 50 protestors die that night.
The men, while never formally charged, were accused of participating with members of the Muslim Brotherhood and planning an attack on a police station. Accusations and pending charges of murder, a conspiracy to kill, among others, have been called ludicrous by friends and family who have consistently praised the men’s humanitarian efforts.
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