The two Canadians detained in Egypt met with a lawyer for the first time since their arrest last Friday, and were reportedly in high spirits despite being held in an overcrowded prison.

John Greyson, a Toronto filmmaker, and Tarek Loubani, a London, Ont., doctor, were arrested in Egypt while passing through Cairo on their way to Gaza.

Loubani was going to Gaza to train emergency room doctors. Greyson was accompanying him, hoping to make a documentary.

"They are in good health, high spirits." Khaled El Shalakany, managing partner of the law firm representing the two men, told CBC News on Thursday. "What I’ve been told is that they are strong individuals and they are laughing in high spirits despite the situation they are in."

Greyson’s sister, Cecilia Greyson, told CBC News earlier that she had come across reports of physical abuse, but Shalakany denied that and said the two Canadians are coping well.

However, Shalakany described the prison conditions as "not ideal" due to overcrowded cells. He added that the Canadians are sharing a cell "with many other prisoners."

Greyson and Loubani are scheduled to have a hearing on Aug. 28.

Shalakany said although there are several petitions to release the two men, that is unlikely to happen before the hearing.

Prison stay could be prolonged

Greyson and Loubani were arrested last week as supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood and ousted president Mohammed Morsi clashed with security forces. The supporters are seeking to reinstate Morsi, who was toppled by the army on July 3 after mass demonstrations against him.

An order has been issued to hold Greyson and Loubani for another 45 days, and that can be renewed for another 45 days.

Shalakany explained that normal legal proceedings are being followed, which means the men may be held for weeks before they see a judge.

"The prosecution and the whole country are facing a crisis and they are swamped, so they are dealing with hundreds, if not thousands, of cases," he said. "So unfortunately, it’s just being part of a large problem."

According to a document from the Egyptian prosecutor, Greyson and Loubani, along with seven other foreign nationals, face a range of accusations, including:

  • Belonging to an armed gang.
  • Threatening security and social peace.
  • Disabling public transport and communications.
  • Possession of firearms, ammunition and explosives.

In an interview with CBC on Wednesday, Cecilia Greyson called the document misleading as it lumps his brother and Loubani with other foreign nationals without naming them.

As far as she knows, no charges have been laid against the men.