Two Canadians detained in Egypt have launched a hunger strike and their friends and family are asking Prime Minister Stephen Harper to personally intervene.
Dr. Tarek Loubani and John Greyson planned to stop eating on Monday to protest the extension of their detention for another 15 days, said a friend, Justin Podur. The two will drink only fruit juice.
“We can only imagine the anguish that John and Tarek feel after realizing that their detention could be extended for so long in what can only be described as an arbitrary process that lacks any credibility,” Mr. Greyson’s sister, Cecilia Greyson, said in a statement.
While the Canadian government has expressed disappointment that the men’s detention has been extended, friends and family of the pair are now calling on Mr. Harper to pick up the phone and make a direct appeal for them to be released.
“We’re hoping that Prime Minister Harper will contact the Egyptian Prime Minister,” Mr. Podur said.
The Canadian government has repeatedly summoned Egyptian Ambassador Wael Aboulmagd, and Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird has contacted his Egyptian counterpart, Nabil Fahmy.
The two Canadians were arrested Aug. 16 when they were out in the Cairo streets after the curfew imposed by emergency law, and have been held without charge for a month.
The Canadian government has said it believes the two were simply in “the wrong place at the wrong time.”
The arrests came during the heat of protests at the ouster of former president Mohammed Morsi by the country’s military. The military-backed interim government last week extended the state of emergency imposed during the ouster.
On Sunday, Lynne Yelich, the junior minister for foreign affairs who is responsible for consular cases, said that the Canadian government was “disappointed” to learn over the weekend that the two men will remain in custody.
“Canada shares the concern of the families and friends of Dr. Loubani and Mr. Greyson in this matter and, in the absence of confirmation of the charges, continues to call for their release,” she said in the statement.