TORONTO (AP) — Two Canadians have been arrested by Egyptian police, the Canadian government said Sunday.
Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Caitlin Workman said Canada’s embassy in Cairo is in contact with local authorities and is providing consular assistance to the two Canadians. She could not release further information due to privacy concerns.
A friend of the two men, Justin Podur, said they were detained by Egyptian police late Friday. He said the Canadians where en route to the Palestinian-ruled Gaza Strip.
Cairo has been gripped by escalating protests by supporters of deposed president Mohammed Morsi that have left hundreds of people killed and thousands more injured.
Podur said that consular staff told him they had met with the two Canadians at a Cairo prison. The consular staff told him that the two Canadians were fine, but hadn’t heard if they were being charged, Podur said. They planned to check on them again on Monday.
Earlier Podur said he was very concerned about his friends’ safety.
“They’re in an Egyptian prison in one of the worst weeks in Egyptian history,” said Podur, who added that he’s very concerned about their safety.
Podur identified the Canadians as Tarek Loubani, an emergency room doctor in London, Ontario, and John Greyson, a Toronto-based filmmaker and York University professor. He said Loubani was involved in a program sponsored by Western University in London, Ontario, to train Gaza doctors in advanced cardiac and trauma life support. He said Greyson was looking into the possibility of making a documentary about Al Shifa hospital in Gaza.
Podur said the two arrived in Cairo on Aug. 15 but their journey to Gaza was delayed due to the unrest.
“Given all the unrest it was quite problematic and dangerous to travel to the border,” said Podur. “Across the Sinai is dangerous, the border crossing itself is dangerous.”
Podur said they were arrested around 10 p.m. Friday, which is after a curfew currently in effect in Cairo. He was uncertain whether they were swept up as police arrested hundreds of curfew violators or for some other reason.
He said the last contact he had with his friends was a phone call from Loubani saying they had been arrested by Egyptian police.