John Greyson, Tarek Loubani free to leave Egypt, lawyer says
Canadians released from jail had been in Egypt since mid-August arrest
Canadians John Greyson and Dr. Tarek Loubani are now free to leave Egypt, news that comes after the two were released from jail last weekend but not allowed to leave the country.
On Thursday morning, Egypt's Foreign Ministry confirmed that the two detained Canadians had clearance to leave the country.
"Their names have been taken off the no-fly list and they are basically free to go," Sasa Petricic reported on CBC News Network.
Prosecutors separated the Canadians' case from the 600 others who were arrested at the same time. The government said it took the last 53 days since Loubani and Greyson had been arrested to investigate the charges. The investigation has ended, they said.
The men have been in a hotel ever since the early hours of Sunday morning, when they were suddenly released from prison, but prevented from leaving the country. They went to the airport, but were turned back by officials who said they did not have permission to fly.
The paperwork required to allow them to fly out of the country may be done by Friday, Petricic reported.
Petricic also quoted a government spokesman who said the case is now "closed," and that the men will be allowed to re-enter the country.
"Their names were cleared," said the spokesman.
Greyson, a Toronto filmmaker, and Loubani, a London, Ont., doctor, have been in Egypt since their arrest in mid-August. The two were arrested, but never faced any formal charge.
The had men arrived in Egypt the day before their arrest and planned to travel to Gaza. Loubani was planning to work at a hospital there, while Greyson was going to film a short documentary about Loubani's work, according to a statement the men issued during their time in jail.
With the Gaza border closed because of the upheaval in Egypt, the men returned to Cairo.
When a protest in Ramses Square suddenly turned violent, Loubani began treating victims, some with gunshot wounds, while Greyson filmed.
Later that evening, the men were stopped and arrested at a police checkpoint as they made their way back to the hotel.
And so began seven weeks of incarceration for the men, who claimed they were beaten, denied access to phone calls and forced to sleep in squalid conditions.
Greyson and Loubani were suddenly released from prison last weekend, raising hopes that their return to Canada was imminent. But at the airport, they were not allowed to board a flight to Germany and were told their names were on a no-fly list.
Since then, the men have been living in a Cairo hotel while lawyers pushed for their release.
Lawyers had been told the men's cases would have to be processed along with the hundreds of protesters also arrested on Aug. 16. It now appears Egyptian prosecutors have backed down from that position.
"The prosecutors were contemplating all kinds of charges against the group. The charges appear to have been dismissed," Petricic reported.
"They are free to leave but it's not clear when exactly they will be boarding a plane to head back home."
Stoffel also reported that the Egyptian government will not investigate claims the men were beaten and treated badly in jail, because no official complaint has been filed.
The imprisonment of the two men has been called a "roller-coaster" for their families, and triggered a high-level diplomatic push for their release.
Stoffel asked the Foreign Ministry spokesman if the men were wrong to be at the protest, given the turmoil in Egypt at the time and a travel advisory for the country issued by the Canadian government.
“It’s better of course for all foreigners … to refrain from going to places of demonstration, especially in Cairo," the spokesman said.