Skip to main content

Atom Egoyan and Arsinee Khanjian appeal for release of Canadians imprisoned in Egypt

Atom Egoyan,left, and his partner Arsinee Khanjian are photographed on Jan 13 2012. Egoyan is directing the production of Cruel and Tender at the Canadian Stage Company with Kahnjian acting in the production.

Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail

Filmmaker Atom Egoyan and his wife, the actress Arsinée Khanjian, have joined a growing chorus of calls to release two Canadians arrested by Egyptian authorities more than a week ago.

In a brief video posted to YouTube, the Cairo-born Egoyan asks for the immediate release of "our good friends," filmmaker John Greyson (Lilies, Zero Patience), and the London, Ont.-based emergency-room physician Tarek Loubani. "These are very, very important members of our community, they're very, very dear friends, they're people of the highest, highest character, and I think this has all been a tremendous misunderstanding."

He adds: "They are exceptional human beings."

Story continues below advertisement

Greyson and Loubani were detained on Aug. 18 when their supporters say they got lost in Cairo and wandered into a police station to ask for directions. They were arrested along with seven other foreigners, none of whom have been charged. Despite protests by the Canadian government, Egyptian prosecutors last week obtained an order permitting the men to be held for an additional 15 days without charge.

The men had arrived in Cairo intending to continue on to Gaza, where Dr. Loubani trains physicians in advanced cardiac and trauma life support, but the turmoil in Egypt had delayed their travel.

On Tuesday, a Globe and Mail editorial called for their immediate release, saying that keeping them in prison "is indefensible."

In the YouTube video, which has been posted on TarekandJohn.com, a website advocating for their release, the Beirut-born Khanjian greets viewers in Arabic and explains that she is good friends with the two men. She then adds in English: "They have been very actively important members of our community, as artists, as members of our civil society, they have represented our culture, our arts, and – in the case of Tarek – the sciences in this country."

"We are not only proud of them but we love them as friends, we expect them to be safe and sound back to Canada, and we are looking forward that you would do everything possible to make this happen, because they are very important lives to be saved and celebrated with joy and not with dread."

A petition on Change.org calling on the Canadian government to "help free Tarek and John" had more than 82,000 names as of noon on Tuesday.

The men are expected to appear before an Egyptian prosecutor on Wednesday afternoon to present documents proving they were not part of the anti-government protests that have roiled Egypt this summer.

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Comments

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • All comments will be reviewed by one or more moderators before being posted to the site. This should only take a few moments.
  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed. Commenters who repeatedly violate community guidelines may be suspended, causing them to temporarily lose their ability to engage with comments.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.
Cannabis pro newsletter