Two Canadians who were held in an Egyptian jail for seven weeks have arrived on Canadian soil.
Dr. Tarek Loubani and John Greyson, who were swept up on Aug. 16 along with 600 others and held with no charges, landed at 7:30 pm at Toronto's Pearson International airport.
They were escorted down the plane by police to a separate arrival zone, where a horde of media, friends and family awaited them.
"We're delighted to be here, to be free, and we're nervous to be home. Here we are," Dr. Loubani told reporters, with his father, Dr. Mahmoud Loubani at his side.
For the two Canadians, it was a nightmare, one that "up until last Friday, [they] thought would drag on for years," said Mr. Greyson.
"From the bottom of our hearts, thank you," said Dr. Loubani. "Thank you to everybody who lost many many nights of sleep and time with their families."
Greyson, a Toronto filmmaker and professor, and Loubani, a London, Ont., doctor, were arrested after they said they went to check out anti-government protests in Cairo.
"We focused on getting to Gaza, planning only to stop overnight in Cairo," Mr. Greyson said, adding, "We thought we could avoid the violence that continues to tear Egypt apart. We were wrong."
"We were beaten, we were housed in very cramped conditions, sleeping on the concrete with cockroaches," he added.
Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird and other government officials waged an aggressive campaign for their release, which came last weekend.
But they were prevented from boarding a flight out of the country that same day after their names appeared on a "stop-list" issued by prosecutors.
Badr Abdel-Atty, Egypt's foreign ministry spokesman, said the two were accused of participating in illegal protests and or resisting authorities during arrest, like many others during a protest by supporters of ousted Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi.
But Abdel-Atty said Thursday that accusations against them had been dropped and the pair had been cleared to leave Egypt.
With files from The Canadian Press