ROME – Egyptian authorities have released Canadian filmmaker John Greyson and physician Tarek Loubani after they spent nearly 50 days in a crowded Cairo prison without charges being pressed.
Their detention had prompted a campaign for their release during the Toronto Film Festival when directors Atom
Egoyan and Alex Gibney, and actress Sarah Polley held a star-studded press conference and started an online petition which rapidly reached more than 100,000 signatures.
Greyson, whose often gay-themed pics include “Zero Patience,” “Lilies,” and “The Law of Enclosures,” and Loubani, an emergency room medic from London, were detained on August 16 in Cairo in the vicinity of a demonstration during a stopover en-route to Gaza, where Loubani had a medical project that Greyson was going to film.
They were reportedly roughed up, shaved bald, refused phone calls, and incarcerated in a crowded cockroach infested cell in Cairo’s Tora prison without charges, despite pressure from Canadian authorities. In protest they went on a hunger strike, which until Saturday night, when they were suddenly released, had only prompted their unjustified detention to be extended.
Loubani’s brother Mohammed told the Toronto Star newspaper that no explanation was given for their release, after which they were resting in a Cairo hotel, awaiting for their passports to be returned so they could leave Egypt.
Tensions in Egypt are running high between supporters of ousted Islamist president Mohammed Morsi and the military which is governing the country but has said it will cede power in Spring 2014 after new elections.