Two Canadians, John Greyson and Tarek Loubani, who are detained by the Egyptian government without charge should be released immediately. The Canadian government has demanded their release and the Foreign Affairs Minister, John Baird, says there is no basis for holding either man. Keeping them in prison for another week, as the Egyptians seem prepared to do, is indefensible.
Messrs. Greyson and Loubani were arrested on Aug. 16 in Cairo when, according to reports, they went into a police station to ask for directions. Egyptian authorities subsequently issued a statement saying two Canadians and seven other foreign nationals had been arrested and were being investigated for threatening security and social peace, belonging to an armed gang and being in possession of firearms, ammunition and explosives. An Egyptian court ruled they could be held for 15 days without charge.
At best, the men were mistakenly lumped in with other arrestees during Egypt’s ongoing civil unrest; at worst, the accusations are specious.
Mr. Greyson is a professor at Toronto’s York University, a prominent gay activist, an artist and one of Canada’s most noted film directors (Patient Zero, Lilies). Mr. Loubani is a professor at Western University in London, Ont. and an emergency room doctor who has dedicated much of his life to improving ER training in Gaza. According to their supporters, they were on their way through Cairo to Gaza, where they planned to work on a joint project, and were delayed for a day. It was during their extra night in Cairo that they got lost in the city and wandered into a police station looking for directions. They have been out of contact with their families ever since; Canadian consular officials have visited them in jail and say they are in good health.
There is no valid reason for the two men to continue to be detained. Their government has vouched for them and asked for their release, and their credentials are easily confirmed.