Egypt: released Canadians prevented from leaving the country
Two Canadians released from an Egyptian prison after being held without charges since mid-August were barred from flying out of the country on Sunday, Cairo airport officials said.
John Greyson, a Toronto filmmaker and York University professor, and Tarek Loubani, a physician from London, Ontario, had checked in for a flight to Frankfurt, but were prevented from boarding the plane after their names appeared on a "stop-list" issued by prosecutors, the airport officials said.
The two Canadians retrieved their luggage and were free to leave the airport, the officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to brief reporters.
The Canadian foreign affairs department said Greyson and Loubani were released from an Egyptian prison on Sunday morning.
Greyson's sister, Cecilia, told the Associated Press that Canadian consular officials were dealing with what she called "red tape" so they could begin their trip back to .
"Until they are safely back in Canada we are just going to be a little bit on edge," she said. "We've had contact with them throughout the day today. We're relieved they are out of prison. We're immensely encouraged by that."
She said the two were in a safe location waiting patiently to get out. They have been in regular contact via phone and email, she said.
She said the the pair were surprised when a guard swung open their cell door and led them to freedom because they had no clue that they were being released.
"They just got a knock on the cell door and they were just sort of shuffled out of the cell," she said. "He actually thought they were changing cells or going to a different prison."
Adria Minsky, a spokeswoman for Lynne Yelich, a junior minister responsible for consular affairs, said in an emailed statement that they were "aware of these reports" that the Canadians were not allowed on their flight and said "Canadian embassy officials continue to provide consular assistance to facilitate their departure from Egypt".
"We look forward to seeing these two Canadians return home shortly," Minsky said.
Loubani and Greyson got caught up in the unrest surrounding the overthrow of Islamist president . They had been planning to travel to Gaza, where Loubani was to teach emergency room medicine and Greyson was considering producing a documentary.
The pair had been held without charges since 16 August, when they were arrested while observing a pro-Morsi demonstration in Cairo in which the Canadians said they saw at least 50 protesters killed. The two Canadians said Loubani heeded a call for a doctor and began treating wounded demonstrators while Greyson recorded the unrest on video. They said they were arrested and beaten after leaving the scene.
The pair released a statement from prison last month saying they were beaten and subjected to degrading treatment in prison. They said they spent most of the time crammed with other inmates in a filthy, cockroach-infested prison cell.
The pair staged a 16-day hunger strike to try to pressure Egyptian officials to release them, but started eating again last week.
Canadian foreign minister John Baird had warned that their detention was a significant threat to relations between the two countries.