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Canadians arrested in Egypt held in prison with no charges

08/21/2013 10:01 EDT | Updated 10/21/2013 05:12 EDT
Two Canadians detained in Egypt amid clashes last week between police and supporters of ousted president Mohammed Morsi are being held in prison despite the fact no charges have been laid, a family member says.

An Egyptian judge on Tuesday ordered John Greyson and his friend Tarek Loubani to stay behind bars another 15 days pending an investigation.

“There has been no charges given to either our Egyptian lawyer or the Canadian consular officials against John or Tarek,” Greyson’s sister Cecilia Greyson told CBC News.

Greyson, a Toronto filmmaker, and Loubani, a London, Ont., doctor, were arrested in Egypt last Friday.

Egyptian news sources say the two Canadians, along with seven other foreign nationals, face a range of accusations, including:

- Belonging to an armed gang.

- Threatening security and social peace.

- Disabling public transport and communications.

- Possession of firearms, ammunition and explosives.

Family members have hired a Cairo lawyer to represent Greyson and Loubani, and Cecilia Greyson said she hopes the lawyer will get to see them on Wednesday.

"We have heard one message that they're OK. That message was given to us to indicate that they're still alive," she said.

'Preposterous' allegations

According to the ONA news agency, the two Canadians, among others, are accused of being involved with the Muslim Brotherhood and trying to storm a police station in Cairo's Ramses Square during last week's demonstrations. Security forces arrested the spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood on Monday night, in an escalating battle between with the Islamist movement that led to the ouster of Egypt’s first democratically elected president and bloody clashes.

But Justin Podur, the pair's emergency contact, told CBC News: “The allegations that they were storming a mosque or police station are totally preposterous."

Podur, a mutual friend of Greyson and Loubani, has since launched an online petition demanding their release. It has received thousands of signatures.

Meanwhile, the Canadian government says it will continue to engage with the highest levels until the matter is resolved.

"The Egyptian ambassador has committed to press for a timely and positive resolution to this matter," Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Lynne Yelich said in a statement Tuesday after she and Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird spoke with Egypt's ambassador to Canada.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Monday he was "extremely concerned" about the safety of the two Canadians.

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