NEWS

Canadians Held In Egypt Getting 2nd Consular Visit

08/19/2013 08:11 EDT | Updated 10/19/2013 05:12 EDT
A pair of Canadians detained in Egypt, where nearly 1,000 people have been killed in clashes between police and supporters of ousted president Mohammed Morsi, will get a second visit today from Canadian consular officials.

John Greyson, a Toronto-based filmmaker and York University professor, and Tarek Loubani, an emergency-room doctor from London, Ont., were arrested Friday in Cairo.

The men were heading to Gaza, where Greyson was to explore the possibility of making a documentary and Loubani was taking part in a program that involved the training of local doctors.

The two were turned back at the Gaza border, which was closed, and arrested upon their return to Cairo.

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Egyptian officials have not given a reason for their detainment. The pair were arrested at 10 p.m. local time, which would fall outside a nationwide dawn-to-dusk curfew in place since Thursday.

Justin Podur, a professor at the faculty of environmental studies at York University, is posting updates about the two on his blog.

On Sunday afternoon, Podur posted a message online, saying consular officials had made contact with Greyson and Loubani.

"We have heard from Canadian consular services that they managed to visit Tarek Loubani and John Greyson in the Egyptian prison facility," wrote Podur. "Tarek and John have both passed messages through consular services that they are okay. We still have no information about charges. Consular services will be seeing Tarek and John again tomorrow [Monday].

In an interview with CBC News Network, Podur said it's still not clear why the pair are being held.

“It’s possible they were arrested for being outside after curfew,” he said. “It possible they were arrested observing the demonstrations. Tarrek is an experienced field physician. He may have tried to volunteer his services as a medic at one of the field hospitals. We’re very worried, we’re very concerned.”

Late Sunday Lynne Yelich, Canada’s minister of state for consular affairs, said in a Twitter message that she has spoken with Egyptian officials about the two Canadians.

Clashes began last Wednesday between security forces and supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood. Supporters are seeking the reinstatement of Morsi, toppled by the army on July 3 after mass demonstrations against him.

Officials in Ottawa are warning Canadians to avoid any non-essential travel to Egypt. Anyone who must travel to the region is asked to avoid the protests and register with the Canadians Abroad, a service that keeps track of Canadians travelling overseas.

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