By: Xiaoli Li and Erica Vella
Two Canadians detained in Egypt may be facing numerous charges including murder.
John Greyson and Tarek Loubani, detained since Aug. 16, may finally be charged, according to documents obtained by the Toronto Star. Some of the charges proposed include murder, using explosives against an Egyptian police station, possession of unlicensed firearms and using force against police.
Loubani was traveling to the Gaza Strip, where he was due to begin volunteer work at the Al-Shifa hospital. Greyson was planning to film Loubani’s work there.
Justin Podur, a close friend of the pair spoke to Humber News. He said, “For us who have been following the legal case, it’s the same as it has always been. From the first few days of what Tarek and John have describe as grab-bag of ludicrous charges… We prefer to call them allegations.”
Egypt has held the two Canadians without charge over three 15-day periods. On Sept. 29, their detention was extended for an additional 45 days.
John Tackaberry, spokesperson from Amnesty International told Humber News, “We have been raising concerns publicly and are putting pressure on the government to take action on the case.”
A statement released on Sept. 29 by Lynne Yelich, Canadian Minister of State, said, “We were disappointed to learn today that Dr. Loubani and Mr. Greyson will remain in custody… Canada continues to press for a timely and positive resolution to this situation and, in the absence of confirmation of the charges, once again calls for their release.”
Tackaberry said Prime Minster Stephen Harper has publicly stated that they should be released unless charges are revealed.
Podur said that’s not good enough.
“The Canadian government has said they want them released pending charges. Unfortunately at this point on day 46 that’s not good enough… This is basically a loophole that the Canadian government, Prime Minster Harper and Minister Baird have given them, which is ‘if you give them charges no matter how absurd we’re not going to ask for their release anymore,’” said Podur.
He said the Canadian government should demand their immediate release without any conditions. Communication with Loubani and Greyson has been limited to lawyers and Cairo’s Canadian embassy. Podur has been pushing for their release since their arrest.
In a statement issued by Loubani and Greyson, the pair said upon their arrest they were beaten by Egyptian authorities, held in a 3m by 10m cell with 36 other prisoners, and denied access to a phone.
“We’ve obviously raised concern on the description of their treatment. The treatment they received when they were first arrested is consistent with widespread incidences of torture and ill treatment that we know of in Egypt. We’ve raised concerns about what happened to them when they were first held and the conditions that they are held in,” said Tackaberry.
“[At] any point in the next 44 days the prosecutor can drop the case and they can be on a plane home. There’s absolutely no legal basis for any of this and there’s no legal impediment for them leaving. This is a matter of Canada finding a way to apply sufficient pressure to make that happen,” said Podur.
The Egyptian director from the Human Rights Watch told Humber News Greyson and Loubani have not been formally charged and it is not likely to happen soon.