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Tarek Loubani and John Greyson jailed in Egypt

a timeline of events

by Tara-Michelle Ziniuk

Greyson (left) and Loubani remain jailed in Egypt.
Greyson (left) and Loubani remain jailed in Egypt.

Last updated September 11, 2013. For most up-to-date information please go to the websites listed at the bottom of this article.

TORONTO—Canadian filmmaker John Greyson and ER physician Dr. Tarek Loubani (London, ON) remain jailed in a Eygptian prison where they have been since their arrest on August 16. They have yet to be charged.

Both were en route to Gaza to work on projects in their respective fields—Greyson's research for a film, and Loubani's an academic/medical collaboration which involved training local physicians in life support.

Since mid-August supporters have rallied to gain information on Loubani and Greyson's whereabouts, legal situation and well-being, and ultimately to free them. Below is a run-down of the timeline of events.

August 15, 2013: John and Tarek arrive in Cairo, intending to travelling to Gaza immediately. Travel was set back by a day due to riots in the area which prevented them from being able to cross the border.

Aug 16, 2013: John and Tarek are arrested by Egyptian police, allegedly after approaching police asking for directions. This occurs at about 4pm EST/10pm in Cairo. John is able to call a contact in Canada with a short message saying they are being arrested. Their location is unknown. 80+ Egyptians are reported dead from the riots.

Aug 18, 2013: It is confirmed by a consular visit that John and Tarek are being held in the Tora prison, about 16 miles south of Cairo. Reports say that the prison is overcrowded but that spirits remain high for John and Tarek.

August 19, 2013: Prime Minister Harper releases a statement saying, "We don't frankly know what evidence supports any such arrest, and we have expressed our concerns directly to the Egyptian government."

August 20, 2013:  Lynne Yelich, junior foreign affairs minister releases a statement saying “We were disappointed to learn today that Dr. Loubani and Mr. Greyson will continue to be held in detention. The Government of Canada is deeply disappointed by this decision as there continues to be a lack of evidence. Canada will continue to engage with the highest levels until this matter is resolved.”

Also on August 20: It is reported that John and Tarek are 2 of 9 foreigners being detained in Egypt.

August 21, 2013: An Egyptian lawyer is retained for John and Tarek. Canadian counsel also makes plans to travel to Egypt.

August 22, 2013: Former president Mubarak is released from the Tora prison. John and Tarek remain jailed.

August 23, 2013: A lawyer, consular staff and doctor pay a visit to John and Tarek. Neccessities are delivered. A hearing is set for August 29.

It is worth noting that Egypt has a 15-day detention period to investigate before laying charges. This period is not a sentence in itself, though can be extended.

Aug 27, 2013: John and Tarek are able to have a consular meeting. Reports are that they remain in good spirits and health.

Aug 29, 2013: Today is set to be a pivotal day in this situation, as it is the day scheduled for a hearing, as well as the end of the initial 15-day detention period. Unfortunately, things are set back when the prosecutor is a no-show.

August 31, 2013: Tarek and John's lawyers meet with the prosecution. They are told it will be a few more days of investigation before it is decided if the two will be charged or released.

September 1, 2013: Tarek and John support contingent marches as part of Calgary Pride.

September 2, 2013: There is a march in support of Tarek and John's release at Toronto's Labour Day Parade, as Greyson usually marches with the parade.

September 3, 2013: Lawyers are expecting to hear from the prosecution today. The petition calling for Tarek and John's release is at over 100,00 signatures.

September 10, 2013: Press conference at Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) as part of ongoing campaign. High-profile members of the film industry speak out in support of the jailed men. An open letter is signed by 311 actors, directors, filmmakers and industry professionals. The main petition now includes signatures of over 100 organizations in addition to individual signatures.

September 11, 2013: Meeting scheduled with district prosecutor.

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Supporters have been encouraged to go to the link above and add their names to the petition. Also sign your name at the LabourStart petition.

Tarek and John's friend and colleague Justin Podur is posting regular updates and calls to action.

Free Tarek and John has information about contacting the Canadian embassy and consulate, as well as a round-up of media on the situation.

The hashtag #FreeTarekandJohn is being used for solidarity posts on Twitter.


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