By Caroline Brown
Two Canadian men, freed over the weekend after 51 days in a Cairo prison, were still unable to leave Egypt on Monday.
After their surprise release, Tarek Loubani and John Greyson checked in Sunday for a flight to Frankfurt, Germany, but weren’t allowed to board the plane. Airport officials said their names were on a no fly list issued by Egyptian prosecutors, the Associated Press reported.
Reports Monday said the men are now hoping an Egyptian prosecutor will make a decision to remove their names from that list “before Thursday, when the Egyptian government will shut down for several days for a religious holiday,” CBC.ca reported.
Loubani and Greyson were arrested on Aug. 16 during demonstrations in Cairo and they were held without charge for over seven weeks.
In a statement issued from prison last month, the two said they had decided to observe protests happening close to their hotel and witnessed 50 protesters being killed. They also said after leaving the protest they went into a police station to ask for directions and were taken into custody.
Loubani, a doctor in London, Ont., was en route to the a hospital in Gaza to work on a project with local doctors. Greyson, a Toronto filmmaker was there to document the trip.
“Tarek has coordinated some incredible medical education work in Gaza over the past two years,” said Amit Shah, a medical professor at Western University and a friend of Loubani, said in an email Monday to Humber News.
“He coordinated his work through the ministry of health in Gaza, but he has no political affiliation with Hamas, and is in fact apolitical,” said Shah.
Ezra Levant of the Toronto Sun over the weekend said in an opinion column that the two are “left-wing extremists who are serial, professional protestors.”
Justin Podur, a creator of the website johnandtarek.com, denied the allegation.
“We are ignoring smears on right-wing blogs and garbage in the comments sections of websites, and won’t be responding to this toxic material, Podur told Humber News.
“Given the political situation there, spreading or fuelling these kinds of rumours would literally put their life in danger,” said Shah.
Podur posted on Twitter that Loubani and Greyson are recuperating in a hotel in Cairo and are awaiting passports in order to leave the country.