Gay Canadian filmmaker John Greyson and Tarek Loubani, an ER doctor, who were detained on August 18 in Egypt while filming a documentary during the security crackdown by the military-led government and held without charges since then, are to be held for another 45 days, according to friends and family campaigning for their release:
An Egyptian Foreign Ministry spokesman, speaking to Reuters, confirmed the men would be charged with “participating in an illegal demonstration”. The spokesman, in the same interview, indicated that prosecutors were considering espionage charges against the two Canadians based on “surveillance equipment” they found in their possession.
Canada's Prime Minister has called for their immediate release.
The filmmakers began a hunger strike nearly two weeks ago, and wrote a letter released by relatives and friends detailing the abuse and "ridiculous conditions" of their detention.
The letter was written from a jail cell in Cairo where they are being held. The letter describes the details of their arrest and beatings they have endured:
The protest was just starting — peaceful chanting, the faint odour of tear gas, a helicopter lazily circling overhead — when suddenly calls of “doctor.” A young man carried by others from God-knows-where, bleeding from a bullet wound. Tarek snapped into doctor mode and started to work doing emergency response, trying to save lives, while John did video documentation, shooting a record of the carnage that was unfolding. The wounded and dying never stopped coming. Between us, we saw over fifty Egyptians die: students, workers, professionals, professors, all shapes, all ages, unarmed. We later learned the body count for the day was 102.
We left in the evening when it was safe, trying to get back to our hotel on the Nile. We stopped for ice cream. We couldn’t find a way through the police cordon though, and finally asked for help at a check point.
That’s when we were: arrested, searched, caged, questioned, interrogated, videotaped with a ‘Syrian terrorist,’ slapped, beaten, ridiculed, hot-boxed, refused phone calls, stripped, shaved bald, accused of being foreign mercenaries. Was it our Canadian passports, or the footage of Tarek performing C.P.R., or our ice cream wrappers that set them off? They screamed ‘Canadian’ as they kicked and hit us. John had a precisely etched bootprint bruise on his back for a week.
We were two of 602 people arrested that night, all 602 potentially facing the same grab-bag of ludicrous charges: arson, conspiracy, terrorism, possession of weapons, firearms, explosives, attacking a police station.
Greyson is perhaps best known for his criticism of the Toronto International Film Festival for "for celebrating films from Tel Aviv. Greyson withdrew his own film from the festival, criticizing Israel's settlement strategy in Gaza," according to Yahoo News.
Read the filmmakers' full letter, AFTER THE JUMP...