09/03/2013 01:17 EDT

Gus Van Sant Calls For John Greyson, Tarek Loubani To Be Freed From Egyptian Jail

Film director Gus Van Sant has called for the release of two Canadians incarcerated in Egypt, according to the Toronto Sun.

Van Sant expressed his support in a letter, following the arrest of John Greyson, a Toronto university professor and filmmaker, and Tarek Loubani, a London, Ont. doctor, in Cairo on Aug. 16. Greyson’s sister posted a statement from Van Sant online.

“I have known John Greyson for 33 years, and he has always impressed me as one of the most informed and helpful people I have ever met. I am concerned for his wellbeing after his arrest. I hope that you will release him and allow him to continue his wonderful and helpful life.”

Before their imprisonment, the two Canadians intended to travel to Gaza; Loubani was to teach at a hospital there and Greyson was to consider making a film.

Egyptian prosecutors say they were "participating with members of the Muslim Brotherhood" in an attack on a police station.

The accusations against the two Canadians and seven other foreign nationals include belonging to an armed gang, threatening security and social peace, disabling public transport and communications, and possession of firearms, ammunition and explosives, according to CBC.

Last week, junior foreign affairs minister Lynne Yelich said they were at the wrong place at the wrong time.

On Saturday, a friend of Greyson and Loubani, Justin Podur, said their lawyers met with a prosecutor, who said he needed more information before making a decision about their release.

Meanwhile, a petition hosted by is calling for the Canadian government “to urgently assist in securing the immediate safety and release” of the pair. It has over 100,000 signatures.

With files from Canadian Press

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