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Canadian Filmmaker John Greyson Starts Hunger Strike in Egyptian Prison

John Greyson P

The director and his traveling companion "will be refusing food" to protest their arbitrary detention, according to campaigners for their release.

TORONTO – Canadian filmmaker John Greyson and physician Dr. Tarek Loubani have begun a hunger strike to protest their imprisonment in Egypt since their arrest on Aug. 16.

A campaign of friends and supporters reported both men, who remain jailed without charges, were told through their lawyers that Greyson and Loubani "will be refusing food beginning on Sept. 16 to protest the arbitrary nature of their detention by Egyptian authorities."

STORY: Hollywood to Egypt: Release Filmmaker John Greyson, Physician Tarek Loubani

The legal escalation follows directors Atom Egoyan and Alex Gibney and actress Sarah Polley addressing the media at the recent Toronto International Film Festival to help free the Canadian director and his traveling partner from a Cairo prison.

And an online petition for the release of the two Canadians has received 115,000 signatures, including ones from Alec Baldwin, Ben Affleck, Charlize Theron, Danny Glover and Michael Ondaatje.

Freedom for Greyson and Loubani has been delayed by Egyptian prosecutors failing to show up for court dates, according to campaigners.

The duo was passing through Cairo on their way to Gaza where Loubani was due to conduct a medical aid project and Greyson was preparing for a film project when they were arrested.

Supporters fear Greyson and Loubani could be detained for up to two years without formal charges being given, according to new emergency measures imposed in Egypt.

"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,” said Cecilia Greyson, John Greyson's sister, in a statement.