Canadian Filmmaker's Egyptian Detention Extended For Another 45 Days
TORONTO -- Canadian filmmaker John Greyson and physician Dr. Tarek Loubani now face another 45 days in detention and possible charges from Egyptian authorities as they insist they are "sleeping like sardines on concrete" in a Cairo prison.
The two Canadians, who are on a hunger strike to protest their imprisonment in Egypt since their arrest on Aug. 16, issued a statement that they dictated to their lawyers in which they insisted "we deserve due process, not cockroaches on concrete. We demand to be released."
It turns they may well face their day in court after the Toronto Star on Friday interviewed Egyptian foreign ministry spokesman Badr Abdelatty in New York City and was told “there is a solid basis, according to the attorney general’s office, to charge them in the near future.”
The Egyptian official said prosecutors would continue probing the events that preceded the arrest of Greyson and Loubani, and that extensions of their arrest will continue until they complete their investigation.
On Sunday, the lawyer for the two jailed Canadians said prosecutors had ordered them detained for another 45 days.
Greyson and Loubani in their statement retraced their steps in Cairo from August 15, when they arrived on route to Gaza and could not leave the city owing to nationwide political unrest.
"Because of the protests in Ramses Square and around the country on the 16th, our car couldn’t proceed to Gaza. We decided to check out the Square, five blocks from our hotel, carrying our passports and John’s HD camera," the duo stated.
At one point, Loubani was called on to treat a young man bleeding from a bullet wound, and Greyson took out his camera to capture "a record of the carnage that was unfolding."
The two Canadians stated they eventually could find no way through a police cordon and asked for help at a check point, with footage of Loubani performing CPR still in the camera.
"That’s when we were: arrested, searched, caged, questioned, interrogated, videotaped with a ‘Syrian terrorist’, slapped, beaten, ridiculed, hot-boxed, refused phone calls, stripped, shaved bald, accused of being foreign mercenaries," the statement continued.
Greyson and Loubani insist they have endured continued mistreatment, and all without being told what offense they committed.
"The prosecutor won’t say if there’s some outstanding issue that’s holding things up. The routers, the film equipment, or the footage of Tarek treating bullet wounds through that long bloody afternoon? Indeed, we would welcome our day in a real court with the real evidence, because then this footage would provide us with our alibi and serve as a witness to the massacre," their statement continued.
That legal limbo has come as film directors and actors held a press conference 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.
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.