Growing calls for immediate release of two Canadians jailed in Egypt

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A growing number of organizations and individuals are expressing their concern about the jailing of two Canadians in Egypt. Filmmaker John Greyson and physician Tarek Loubani were on their way to Gaza when they were arrested on Friday.

On Monday, Egypt's cinema syndicate issued a statement that, as reported on Electronic Intifada, contains references to the possible allegations against Greyson and Loubani: 

The Cinematic Syndicate has presented a petition that the Prosecutor General Hisham Barakat release the Canadian film director John Greyson who was detained while he near the Azbakiya police station during the Ramses Square events last Friday, on the accusation of attempting to storm the Azbakiya police station.

The petition, presented by attorney Sayyid Allam, the legal advisor to the syndicate, said that the syndicate works to protect directors whatever their citizenship when it is established that they are not involved in any violence, especially since the reason Greyson was present in the vicinity of the police station was to see and witness the events as a director and not in order to storm the Azbakiya police station.

An update on this case issued Tuesday by Justin Podur contains additional information on the allegations being made by Egyptian state authorities:

Today a district prosecutor in Cairo sent a press release to domestic Egyptian media outlets referring to the detention for 15 days of nine foreigners -- 4 Irish, 2 Syrian, 1 Turkish, and 2 Canadian -- pending investigation into a wide-ranging list of allegations concerning events that took place at the al-Fateh mosque and the Azbakiya police station.

These two sets of events were distinct in space and time. Four Irish siblings were arrested on Saturday August 17, when police raided the al-Fateh mosque. Tarek and John were already in custody at the time.

foreign journalist was reportedly detained on August 14, and is still in custody. Tarek and John arrived in Cairo on August 15.

There have been numerous other reports of arrests of foreigners in other locations and times.

We are not sure of the identities of any of the nine foreigners mentioned, but the prosecution's press release is a clear attempt to put a group of foreigners arrested at different times and places into a single group to create a far-fetched story about foreigners to justify ongoing imprisonment.

No allegations against John and Tarek have been relayed through consular officials or their Egyptian counsel. No Egyptian official has linked any names, much less Tarek and John's, to these far-fetched allegations.

We continue to demand nothing short of their immediate release.

Also on Tuesday, Canadians for Peace and Justice in the Middle East (CPJME) issued a statement demanding the release of Greyson and Loubani: 

CJPME points out that no charges against the two Canadian citizens have been communicated and none are remotely plausible. "In these circumstances, we are urging the Canadian government to do their utmost to directly pressure the Egyptian authorities for the immediate and unconditional release of Tarek Loubani and John Greyson," said CJPME's president, Thomas Woodley. CJPME is also asking for Canadian consular officials to energetically pursue their release as we are very concerned for the safety and well-being of the two men.

Their detention comes amid bloody clashes between Egyptian security forces and supporters of ousted President Mohammed Morsi that have claimed almost 1,000 lives in recent days. Loubani and Greyson were on their way to Gaza through Egypt on a medical mission. Given the volatile situation in Egypt, traveling to the Gaza border was problematic and the two decided to prolong their stay in the Egyptian capital. Loubani was going to Gaza to train emergency room doctors and Greyson was accompanying him, to film for a documentary.

A new website -- tarekandjohn.com -- has been created by advocates of Greyson and Loubani's release. 

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